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Award ceremony for the Confucius Prize for Literacy 2021 held in Jining City, China

This year’s three UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy Laureates from Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt and Mexico were honoured at a national award ceremony on 27 September 2021 in Qufu, East China's Shandong Province and hometown of Confucius on the occasion of the 2021 International Confucius Cultural Festival.

The ceremony was sponsored and organized by the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and the Jining People’s Government, and co-organized by the Jining Education Bureau and the UNESCO International Research and Training Centre for Rural Education.

Mr Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Beijing office, participated in the award ceremony and congratulated all the remarkable prizewinners. Furthermore, the event was featured in multiple Chinese platforms including on the China Central Television news broadcast.

Ms Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General, already recognized the three winners at the global webinar on 8 and 9 September on the occasion of International Literacy Day (ILD). This year, International Literacy Prizes was celebrated under the theme “Inclusive distance and digital literacy learning, while ILD global event focused specifically on “Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide”.

The 2021 UNESCO Confucius Prizes for Literacy were awarded to:

“This year’s Laureates have demonstrated how distant and digital learning can transform peoples’ life and their communities,” said Ms Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director General for Education as she opened the ceremony with a video message. “My warmest congratulations. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the People’s Republic of China for its continuous support to the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy, including your recent decision to extend your support for another five-year cycle.” Ms Giannini highlighted the massive education disruption caused by the pandemic and how it increased reliance on technology to enable learning and also magnified the pre-existing inequalities. “This proportionally affected those who were already left behind,” she added. “ILD celebrations put forward a message that we need to place people at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery to leave no one behind.”

Due to the current global situation, the three winning programmes’ representatives participated in the hybrid event via video messages, and were represented by Mr Emmanuel Krou, President of the ONG GA-TIC from Côte d’Ivoire, Mr Mahmoud El-Meteini, President of Ain Shams University from Egypt, and Ms Roxana Fabris López Piña, Executive President of ‘Construyendo y Creciendo’ from Mexico.

“Thank you to all the members who believed in our NGO,” said Mr Emmanuel Krou. “Today, thanks to this award, we will expand our project and go even further. We urge all young people, all NGOs, who are doing literacy to go even further. We are counting on all our active members to make this Prize a new beginning. A beginning that will allow all young people to have work. Literacy creates jobs.”

“Empowering females, in the most underprivileged rural areas and working on SGD 4 were definitely our main interest and goal,” said Mr Mahmoud El-Meteini. “I would like to end my word by thanking UNESCO for considering Ain Shams University winning this prestigious award, the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy 2021”.

“Being recognized by UNESCO with the literacy prize is an honour to us, but also commits us to continue working to bring education to the most vulnerable population. Seeking that in effect, no one is left behind”, said Ms Fabris López Piña.

The other three laureates of this year are from Guatemala, India and South Africa and were awarded the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prizes.

The UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy was established in 2005 with the support of the Government of the People’s Republic of China. It is awarded to excellent literacy programmes with special consideration to functional literacy, leveraging technological environments, in support of adults in rural areas and out-of-school youth. This prestigious Prize was successfully renewed in April 2021 by the Executive Board for a new five-year cycle.

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