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UNESCO Welcomes Literacy Work Of US First Lady

UNESCO chief welcomes literacy work of US First Lady Laura Bush

12 June 2008 - The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has welcomed the announcement by United States First Lady Laura Bush that she will host a second international literacy meeting in New York in her capacity as Honorary Ambassador for the UN Literacy Decade.

Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement that Mrs. Bush's "hard work and dedication have encouraged other First Ladies across the globe to speak out in support of literacy, and have propelled national governments and other key partners to step up their commitments in this area."

Mrs. Bush will host a symposium on literacy in New York in September which will draw together the conclusions of six regional UNESCO conferences in the last two years and identify next steps. The first White House Conference in Support of Global Literacy was convened by Mrs. Bush in 2006.

This year represents both the mid-term of the UN Literacy Decade and the halfway point towards the 2015 target date for achieving Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

"Unless efforts are redoubled to reach the over 774 million adults in the world who still cannot read or write, then these development objectives will not be met," Mr. Matsuura said. "The need to tackle female illiteracy is of particular urgency. Women account for two-thirds of all adult illiterates. Yet, we know that female literacy - with its proven benefits for health, nutrition, education and household income - is important for reaching every one of the MDGs."


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