International Literacy Day
perickso at aznet.net
Thu Jun 26 03:23:46 EDT 1997
>From the well
The recent postings about International Literacy Day, and the earlier
ones about the passing away of Paulo Freire have caused a wellspring of
emotions for me as July approaches. On July 5th my wife Jan and I leave
for Paris so that I can participate in my 19th year as a member of the
International Jury that selects the annual winners of UNESCO's literacy
prizes. The prizes are awarded every September 8, International Literacy
Day. This year Jan and I are also celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary
When I started on the Jury in 1979, I had the good fortune of working
with Malcolm Adiseshiah, President of the Jury from India, and members of
the Jury James Robbins (Roby) Kidd of Canada and Rodolfo Baron Castro,
former Executive Secretary of the Iberoamerican Association in Madrid,
Spain and four others. Malcolm had been Deputy Director General of UNESCO
for some 25 years, and was one of the founders of the International
Council of Adult Education (ICAE) in Canada, and Roby was the Executive
Secretary of the ICAE (later replaced by Budd Hall).
I worked with Roby each year on the Jury until his death in 1982. Many
of you may recognize Roby as J. R. Kidd, the author of the
internationally best-seller in adult education, How Adults Learn. No one
has been more committed to adult education than Roby!
Baron Castro was a delightful, humanistic, scholarly, linguist who
brought great insights to the Jury about the importance of literacy in the
indigenous language of peoples. I served on the Jury with him through
1985. Then he missed the meeting of 1986 due to failing health, and he
passed away shortly thereafter.
In 1987, Paulo Freire replaced Baron Castro on the Jury to continue the
presence of Latin passion with which Baron Castro always enraptured Jury
meetings. I worked with Paulo for seven years from 1987 through 1994.
In 1995 I missed the Jury meeting due to an emergency case of
appendicitis. Paulo was also very ill that year, though he went to Paris
for the Jury meetings.
Following the Jury meeting of 1993, Malcolm Adesishiah, by then in his
80's, resigned as President of the Jury. Martha Mvungi of Tanzania was
named to replace him. Malcolm passed away prior to the Jury meeting of
In 1995 Paulo resigned from the Jury due to illness, and he passed away
earlier this year.
But ... I am off again to the Jury meetings July 5th! New members of the
Jury replace those who have served in the past, and the humbling work
goes on to shine a little light of appreciation on the adult learners and
their teachers who work largely in obscurity and without recognition most
of their lives. I reckon that by now I have read some 1000 descriptions of
literacy programs from all around the world, and I have been privileged
to help select every winner and honorary mention for going on two decades.
So this year when September 8th comes around, remember that wherever you
are, you are joining in with thousands of literacy learners and teachers
world-wide, and with many who have come, voiced their passion for
literacy and learning, and gone, in a celebration that has now endured
for 33 years. So celebrate! CELEBRATE!............
Then on September 9th, take pencil (or word processor) in hand and send
letters to your members of Congress demanding that the United States
join UNESCO again, and join with the rest of the world in the pursuit of
universal literacy for all!
Cheers! Have a great summer!
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