Laura Bush and Literacy
The first lady plans to host her second international literacy meeting in September, two years after the first, which my colleague Mary Ann Zehr covered here. The next one, however, will include discussions summarizing six regional meetings on literacy held around the world by UNESCO over the past year, and strategies for further action.
While some longtime UNESCO staffers have seen Mrs. Bush's participation in the organization's literacy program as a political distraction, international development experts have seen it as a sure-fire strategy for raising the profile of the program and awareness of the education crisis in poor nations. See this Ed Week article.
UNESCO has been promoting Education for All around the world, in the hopes of getting more than 70 million out of school primary-age children into school. The literacy meeting will focus on devising a plan for the second half of the United Nations Literacy Decade, based on discussions in the regional meetingsin Qatar, China, Mali, India, Azerbaijan, and Mexico.
Mrs. Bush was at the International Conference in Support of Afghanistan in Paris this month when she discussed new money from USAID, some $40 million, for the National Literacy Center in the strife-ridden nation to support teacher training and other education programs, particularly for women.