The Citizens Foundation (TCF) has been awarded the prestigious UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy, 2017for their Adult Literacy Programme, Aagahi. In line with this year’s theme, Aagahi which literally means ‘awareness’ is creating meaningful interventions to impart basic reading and writing skills to older women and young girls who have never been to school before. TCF is the only organization from Pakistan to win this award, the other winners are AdulTICoProgram from Columbia and FunDza from South Africa.
The UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy was established in 2005 with the support of the Government of the People’s Republic of China. It gives special consideration to literacy amongst adults in rural areas and out-of-school youth, particularly girls and women.
Ms. Vibeke Jensen, Director/ Representative of UNESCO in Pakistan, stated, “The low literacy rate is a major problem in Pakistan, and I highly appreciate this initiative of TCF to educate women through their literacy program, Aagahi.”
“To be truly empowering, new technologies must stand on two pillars,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova as she opened the International Conference on International Literacy Day at Paris Headquarters, which focuses this year on Literacy in a digital world. “First, they must be inclusive, bridging gaps, not deepening them. Second, they must be underpinned by respect for human rights and dignity. All this gives rise to new questions about the meaning of literacy today.”
This year’s theme of UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy was ‘Literacy in a Digital World’ and TCF’s Aagahi was recognized on the basis of its effectiveness and the successful use of technology and digital tools for monitoring and evaluation of the programme. The Prize was presented at an official ceremony at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris on International Literacy Day at 8th September, 2017. Mr. Ateed Riaz, Co-Founder and Chairman of TCF, received the award on behalf of the organization in the presence of Amna Khalid, Executive Advisor of TCF for Community Development Programs.
“TCF’s Aagahi now in its 12th year has reached out to 59,000+ women making them well versed in Urdu reading, writing and basic numeracy skill. It has made a massive positive impact on everyday lives of these women, from being able to read bus numbers at a busy bus stop, to calculating the change they are owed at the end of a shopping transaction, to writing a letter to their loved ones and most importantly, supporting their children in education. This gift of literacy has dramatically transformed their lives,” said Mr. Ateed Riaz. “To receive this UNESCO award is encouraging and humbling at the same time, Aagahi will continue to provide the educational opportunities to those who never had the chance to go to school before. The result has been phenomenal and will help these women become more aware and empowered.”