In Nepal, an award ceremony was organized on 18 January in honor of the 2020 Laureate of the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize, Ageing Nepal, for its ‘Basic Literacy Class for senior citizens’ programme. The leading national NGO is promoting the quality of life and rights of senior citizens since 2011, through providing basic skills in reading, writing and numeracy in both Nepali and English. By promoting social change and lifelong learning through literacy education, the programme enhances the senior citizens’ capacity for independent living within their local communities.
The handover ceremony took place at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) in the presence of the Honorable Minister for MoEST, Mr Krishna Gopal Shrestha, Secretary, MoEST, the Secretary General of the Nepal National Commission for UNESCO (NatCom), Mr Gopinath Mainali, the UNESCO Representative to Nepal, Mr Christian Manhart and other high level officials from MOEST, NatCom, UNESCO Kathmandu Office and Ageing Nepal. At the ceremony, a diploma and medal were handed to Mr Krishna Murari Gautam (Chatyang Master), President of Ageing Nepal.
“The mission of this organization is to provide service to underserved community members, the senior citizens, to enhance their capacity for independent living in the local community and to promote social change and lifelong learning education through literacy education”, said the president of Ageing Nepal, Mr Krishna Murari Gautam.
He also expressed his profound gratitude to UNESCO for recognizing the literacy programme, and urged the government to adopt a policy for providing literacy to senior citizens including enabling them to use modern information technology.
“This is not the achievement of Ageing Nepal but also an achievement for the country which will encourage us to strengthen policy and programmes for the benefit of senior citizens”, said the minister Mr. Gopal Shrestha. He also acknowledged the contribution of UNESCO to developing quality education, highlighting that UNESCO had been providing technical, professional and financial support to MoEST for a long time.
UNESCO country representative to Nepal, Mr Christian Manhart, said that UNESCO would continuously work with the government of Nepal to enhance the quality of education: “We express our commitment to continuously work with the government of Nepal in the field of education, and particularly the area of literacy”. He also expressed his hope that the programme of Ageing Nepal will serve as a model for the government of Nepal.
The ceremony was chaired by MoEST Secretary, and Secretary General of the Nepal National Commission for UNESCO, Mr Gopinath Mainali and welcomed by Deputy Secretary General. In the closing remarks, Mr Mainali appreciated UNESCO’s contribution to the field of education and literacy.
Through two prestigious UNESCO Literacy Prizes, namely the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize and the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy, UNESCO supports effective literacy practices and encourages the promotion of dynamic literate societies in the UNESCO member countries. Following the international jury’s recommendation, UNESCO awarded the two UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prizes in 2020 to Ageing Nepal and United World Schools from Nepal and the United Kingdom. The three other literacy programmes from Ghana, Mexico and Yemen, were awarded the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy.
The UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize was established in 1989 with the support of the Government of the Republic of Korea. This literacy Prize gives special consideration to the development and use of mother-tongue literacy education and training. The prize winners receives a medal, a certificate and US$ 20,000 cash prize.