UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize winners on study tour in Republic of Korea

From 8 to 11 October 2019, the two laureates of UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prizes from Senegal and Algeria were invited by the government of the Republic of Korea to visit Seoul and its area to take part in the 573th Hangul Day Celebrations, which commemorates the creation of the Korean alphabet by King Sejong in 1446.

The two winners from Algeria and Senegal took part in several cultural visits and activities that highlighted the influence of the Hangul alphabet on the rich and diverse culture in the Korean society.

Mr Kamel Kherbouche, Director-General of ONAEA, represented the winning National Strategy for Multilingual Literacy programme of Algeria’s National Adult Literacy and Education Office for its support for mother tongue-based literacy for adults in two national languages, Tamazight and Arabic.

He said: “Our study visit to Seoul was a real immersion into the homeland of King Sejong whose fame has traveled centuries of history and crossed the borders with the creation of the Korean alphabet "Hangeul", which specialists describe as being one of the most original, and rational writing systems. It was an opportunity to understand the importance of the invention of the "Hangeul" alphabet, which allowed all Koreans to easily access reading and writing, but also to measure the impact of literacy and quality education on the economic and social development of the population.”

Mr Abdoulaye Mbaye represented Senegal’s Textile Fibres and Development Company (SODEFITEX) and its winning community-driven project that provides literacy classes in three national languages alongside agriculture-related skills development courses for functional literacy and follow-up vocational training for farmers in southern Senegal.

“The trip to the Republic of Korea has made it possible for me to understand the strong relationship that exists between the official use of mother-tongue and the economic development of a country in all of its components,” said Mr Mbaye. “Mother-tongue, spoken and written with the Korean Hangeul alphabet, is used by the formal and informal education sector as well as by the local media, which are major players in the creation of knowledge-based economies and providing access to information, knowledge and technology.”

On 9 September 2019 UNESCO celebrated International Literacy Day with an international conference on the theme of ‘Literacy and multilingualism’ and this year’s UNESCO Literacy Prizes award ceremony.

On behalf of UNESCO Director-General, Ms Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education  rewarded five innovative and impactful literacy programmes from Algeria, Colombia, Indonesia, Italy and Senegal with the two UNESCO International Literacy Prizes: the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prizes and the UNESCO Confucius Prizes for Literacy.

From 26 to 28 September, the UNESCO Confucius Prize winners were invited to discover the rich history and culture of Qufu, China, the hometown of the renowned Chinese scholar and philosopher Confucius.

The UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize was established in 1989 with the support of the Government of the Republic of Korea. It is awarded to excellent literacy programmes with special consideration to the use and development of mother-tongue literacy education and training.

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