United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) says Southern African countries have a responsibility to act boldly in addressing challenges emanating from illiteracy.
Regional director for southern Africa Hubert Gijzen said this during the opening of the First Bridge Africa Conference, organised by Unesco Korea in conjunction with Unesco Malawi, in Lilongwe.
He said there is no way a country could move from poverty to prosperity if its people are illiterate.
“We know that challenges lie ahead. Close to 120 million children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa are not benefiting from education, 757 million people over the age of 15 are illiterate and it is estimated that over 20 percent of girls in the region are excluded, therefore, countries have a responsibility to act boldly and differently to address these challenges,” said Gijzen.
He said the conference has come at a critical juncture as countries are reviewing achievements of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and as they start implementing sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Gijzen said the success of the SDGs locally, nationally and globally lies in education and cooperation; hence, the conference is about bridging gaps in knowledge and skills and building inclusive partnerships and horizontal cooperation.
Minister of Gender, Children, Disabitliy and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati said the conference is one of the first examples of Agenda 2030 in action and it recognises the need for inclusive partnerships.
She said: “The conference will contribute to the growing recognition of community colleges and community-based child care [CBCC] as sustainable models for advancing learning opportunities at all levels.”
The conference attracted participants from Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Swaziland besides from Malawi.