Literacy is key to improve human rights and fight poverty

Boy in library © European Commission

The International LitCam Conference took place for the fifth time in Frankfurt on 4 and 5 October 2010. This year the conference theme was “Literacy and Human Rights”. The first keynote speaker, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Vernor Munoz Villalobos, explained the importance of the human right to education. But does education in and of itself improve the situation of human rights? That was the focus of the second keynote speech of Argentinian Minister of Education, Prof. Alberto Estanislao Sileoni. Also speaking was the ambassador of the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion and former president of Latvia, Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga. She highlighted the relation between literacy and poverty and social exclusion.

During the conference, four organisations presented projects on the subject. The activist and actor Hannes Jaennicke talked about the school project of his organisation, International Campaign for Tibet. Molly Melching from Tostan presented a project in Senegal that uses literacy to fight against the circumcision of young girls. From Israel, Farid Abu Gosh, from the organisation Trust, presented a project for Palestinian women in Israel. The Frankfurt Book Fair Guest of Honour Argentina presented TV network Canal Encuentro with the project “Live together”.

The conference day ended with a round table on the theme of “Literacy, Literature and Human Rights”, featuring authors and actors.

LitCam is an international campaign for literacy and basic education which was launched in 2006 by the Frankfurt Book Fair and its partners, the German Federal Association for Literacy and Basic Education and the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. The campaign supports literacy, basic education and media literacy in developing countries and also functional and media literacy in industrialised countries.