UNESCO International Literacy Prizes 2020


UNESCO has now opened its call for applications and nominations for the 2020 UNESCO International Literacy Prizes. This year UNESCO will reward five individuals or organizations around the world for their outstanding projects that promote literacy within the theme ‘Teaching and learning literacy: the role of educators and changing pedagogies’.

2020 thematic focus: “Teaching and learning literacy: The role of educators and changing pedagogies”.

This year’s thematic focus is highlighting teachers who are at the frontline of delivering literacy learning, and their contribution to promoting youth and adult literacy, linked to target 4.6 of the Sustainable Development Goal on Education (SDG4), where literacy is perceived as a continuum developed throughout life.

UNESCO distinguishes between two Literacy Prizes which are given to five laureates:

The UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize (2 awards), was established in 1989 and is supported by the Government of the Republic of Korea. It gives special consideration to programmes that focus on the development and use of mother-tongue literacy education and training.

The UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy (3 awards), was established in 2005, and is supported by the Government of the People’s Republic of China. This Prize recognizes programmes that promote adult literacy, especially in rural areas and for out-of-school youth, particularly girls and women.

UNESCO International Literacy Prizes

  • Each of the prize winners receives a medal, a diploma and US$20,000.

UNESCO International Literacy Prizes Eligibility

Candidates should take into account this year’s theme – literacy and Multilingualism – and also consider the special focus of each Prize.

  • Institutions, organizations and individuals promoting literacy through effective and innovative projects or programmes.
  • Eligible programmes or projects who have a proven record of innovative work in the field of literacy for at least three years.
  • Programmes/projects that have not been awarded the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes in the past five years.

Selection Criteria

  • Relevance to the themes: The programme/project is pertinent to the areas focused by the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes and the specific theme of this year.
  • Relevance to individuals and societal needs and robustness: The programme/project is relevant to the individual and societal needs in a given context. The programme/project is robust and effective in its design, delivery, structure, management, monitoring and evaluation.
  • Quality of teaching and learning: The quality of teaching and learning involves interrelated dimensions such as the effectiveness, the efficiency, the equality, the relevance and the pertinence.
  • Impact: The ‘impact’ relates to both positive and negative changes made by a programme/project, to beneficiaries, communities and broader societies. Changes include both intended and unintended ones demonstrated by qualitative and/or quantitative evidence.
  • Innovative features: The Innovative features are concerned with new/original ideas, solutions, approaches, methods, devices and perspectives or new ways of adapting traditional ones which can adds value and make a concrete impact.
  • Sustainability: Sustainability is regarding lasting benefits and impacts of a programme/project beyond the lifecycle of the current programme/project. This may involve the concrete activities of a programme/project designed to ensure sustainability of its results and impacts, the contributions to enriching literate environments in which learners can acquire, use, sustain, and advance literacy skills and the availability of future plan.

In addition to these criteria, the project/programme should:

  • Be ongoing and proven record of innovative work in the field of literacy for at least three years.
  • Have not been awarded the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes in the past five years.
  • Promote literacy through effective and innovative projects or programmes.

How to Apply for UNESCO International Literacy Prizes

Governments, non-governmental organizations and individuals are kindly invited to apply. All applications should be submitted to nominating entities, such as the National Commission for UNESCO in the country of the programme, or an NGO that is in an official partnership with UNESCO. Applications can be submitted via the online platform, detailed information about the application and nomination process is to be found on the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes’ website.

For more information, visit UNESCO Literacy Prizes.

Application Deadlines:

  • Deadline for candidates to submit applications to nominating entities: 28th June 2020 (midnight, Paris time).
  • Deadline for nominating entities to submit their nominations to UNESCO: 12th July 2020 (midnight, Paris time).

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