UNESCO Calls for more recognition for African educators


By Busayo Onijala

Lagos, Sept. 8, 2020 Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), has appealed for more recognition and support for literacy educators.

Giannini made the appeal while speaking at a webinar organised by UNESCO to commemorate the 2020 International Literacy Day.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the webinar has: “Literacy Teaching and Learning in the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond: The Role of Educators and Changing Pedagogies,” as its theme.

Sept. 8 was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO in 1966 to remind the international community of the importance of literacy and the need for intensified efforts toward more literate societies.

According to Giannini, there is the need for a stronger collaboration and innovation to inject fresh commitment into literacy for the next decade.

She said that the status of literacy educators must constantly be protected, while ensuring that they are appropriately trained and remunerated.

“Literacy empowers and it is the first critical step to acquire knowledge and freedom.

“It also expands the capabilities of the educated to choose a kind of life that they can value,” the UNESCO boss said.

She said that the COVID-19 pandemic had caused a massive education and learning disruption, adding that it had also been a time of innovation and actions.

Giannini applauded literacy educators for their dedication and commitment to innovations that ensured learning did not stop in their communities, especially, during the pandemic.

“Literacy educators are all too often kept in the shadow when they are meant to be on the front lines.

“Today, they are on the front lines and we are celebrating them to showcase how they can change lives and how they open opportunities for some of the most marginalised women and men in the world,” she said.

She also commended countries that are taking bold actions to develop literacy education even while battling economic recovery.

“We know that in all regions of the world, governments are juggling between measures to stop the transmission of the virus, to reboot economies, and jump start the recovery phase.

“After six months of deep disruption, education stands on fragile grounds everywhere with nearly 24 million children and youths at the risk of dropping out due to the pandemic.

“Without measures, this crisis will amplify and magnify the educational failures that already existed before its outbreak,” Giannini said.

Literacy is a key component of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

SDG 4, which is Quality Education, has as one of its targets, ensuring all young people achieve literacy and numeracy and that the adults who lack the skills are given the opportunity to acquire them.