2018 World Literacy Summit: Reflections
Held across the University of Oxford March 25-27, 2018, The World Literacy Summit was extremely well-attended and well-received by those present. Punctuated by keynotes from international experts across all fields in literacy the education, the Summit gave a sketch of literacy from Jordan to Nigeria and New Zealand to the Netherlands. Delegates came from various sectors; business, government, academia, not-for-profit and the media.
The World Literacy Foundation was the main organizer of the event. The World Literacy Summit attracted over 300 Delegates, including: Her Royal Highness The Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, Carlos Canjura, Minister of Education of El Salvador, Gail Gallie co-founder at Project Everyone, Stacy Mackler VP of Lanôme USA, Noëlla Coursaris Musunka founder of Malaika, Nadia Naviwala Advisor at the Citizens Foundation, Clive Lee CEO of the Yidan Prize and Ambassadors and High Commissioners from Kosovo, Nepal, Afghanistan, Lesotho, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Gabon, Latvia, Brazil, Slovakia, Nicaragua, Cote d’Ivoire, from Chile and the list goes on.
Over 50 nationalities were represented at the Summit. They brought their knowledge, experience and diverse points of view about literacy and how we can collectively ‘Close the Literacy Gap in the 21st Century’, the Summit’s key theme.
Presentations, panels, and workshops covered areas such as literacy in a digital world, girls’ education, the Sustainable Development Goals, adult and functional literacy, education in emergencies, connectivity and literacy and collaboration in literacy.
On Monday morning, HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands gave the opening address. She called upon greater attention to the illiteracy epidemic and the need to prioritize it as a central issue amongst policymakers.
“We need to be framing literacy not as an educational issue but [as something] of importance to the ministry of finance because by helping literacy you help crime, poverty, health issues, employment issues,” – HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands
On Monday afternoon, the ‘Literacy Leaders Roundtable’ commenced at the Sheldonian Theatre. The panelists and Delegates engaged in a powerful conversation about the risks, opportunities for literacy in local and international contexts. The four outstanding participants in the panel were:
- Jonathan Douglas, Director of National Literacy Trust
- Alicia Levi, CEO of Reading is Fundamental
- HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands
- Jade Jacobsohn, Director of Nal’iBali
The moderator was Hilary Mason, from Beanstalk Charity UK.
Following the ‘Literacy Leaders Roundtable,’ the Girls’ and Women’s Literacy and Education for Sustainable Development panel commenced. The panel brought to the attention pressing issues inclusive of collaboration in education for women and girls, barriers to women and girls literacy development and models for sustainable education. Speakers from the panel included:
- Noella Coursaris Musunka, Founder of Malaika and Ambassador of Global Fund
- Shamim Jawad, Founder of Afghanistan Ayenda Foundation
- Hassina Sherjan, Director of Aid Afghanistan for Education
- Asyia Kazmi, PwC | Programme Director & Team Leader, Girls’ Education Challenge
- Kate Moriarity, Global Education Policy Lead of Theirworld
- Megan Lees-McCowan, Head of Africa programmes at Street Child
The moderator was Barbara Scettri, Education Advisor Plan International Ireland.
On Tuesday, the agenda was varied and encompassed sessions led by educationalists, literacy academics, and not-profit-organizations. One highlight of the day was Rana Dajani from We Love Reading. Rana focused on the need to emphasize on storytelling in local languages and fostering a love for reading amongst young children.
“It’s not about giving books; that is secondary and I have seen books sitting on shelves but not being used,” Dajani said. Instead, it is important to “plant the need and the love of books first,” which she says leads to direct literacy, as well as a host of other gains by encouraging a love of school.
You may view videos from the Opening Ceremony of the World Literacy Summit here. Additionally, you may view the entire photo gallery of the World Literacy Summit here. To view the social media activity from the World Literacy Summit, search #WLS2018 on Twitter and Instagram.
The next World Literacy Summit will be hosted at the University of Oxford in 2020.