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09 June 2017

Literacy is essential for the achievement of human rights. It is also the foundation for lifelong learning as well as of a better quality of life when conceived as an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Based on its extensive experience and special mandate in the field of literacy/ non-formal/ and lifelong learning, UNESCO supports Member States through advocacy for a stronger commitment to literacy, and by strengthening a knowledge base, enhancing national capacities, and supporting reinforcement of effective literacy programmes.

Within this context, a 3-day regional meeting of experts took place in Cairo/Egypt, on 16-18 May 2017, with the aim of rethinking and launching a new vision for the Regional Sir El Layan Center of Adult Education that will enable it to fulfil its mandate and respond to the current and emerging needs of the region. This meeting, held under the patronage of the Minister of Education in Egypt, was organized by UNESCO Beirut in coordination with UNESCO UIL, UNESCO Cairo Regional Office and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO).

Since 2014, the UNESCO General Conference has agreed to make the Sirs El Layan Centre a Category 2 center under UNESCO’s auspices for supporting the regional efforts in literacy. The Centre attempts to situate literacy within the broader development context. It pays great attention to local community education and empowerment. Its mission is to be a Centre of excellence in developing literacy and lifelong learning programmes and policies, as well as strengthening non-formal education institutions, and supporting institutions in quality assurance and accreditation, building of human capabilities, catalyzing the creative initiatives of lifelong learning and literacy at local, regional and international levels, and finally, strengthening cooperation with UNESCO and contributing to the national, regional and international literacy, adult learning and lifelong learning agendas.

Regional and international literacy experts, governmental and non-governmental organizations and decision makers gathered for 3 days to discuss and chart out the Centre’s proposed strategy and the way forward towards launching a Regional Alliance for Literacy in the Arab States, and identified the potential network partners for this regional alliance who can contribute to the advancement of the literacy agenda in the region.