In 1990, delegates from 155 countries, as well as representatives from 150 organizations has been attending at the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand (5-9 March 1990) to universalize primary education and massively reduce illiteracy by the year 2000, with sufficient emphasis on female literacy to significantly reduce the current disparity between male and female illiteracy rates for the actions and there was big result of these ten years. However, there is still an adult of about 800 million illiterate and about 100 million children out of the school in the world now.
Between illiterate and the literate population there exists a giant gap in knowledge, information and skills. Most of the world's illiterate persons are concentrated in Asia and Africa, a region where population continues to grow. Seventy percent of the world's illiterate are women and children in the developing countries of Asia and Africa, these issues are so serious now. and those numbers are increasing, especially among women. Therefore United Nations Literacy Decade for the Period this was started from 2003to 2012 as the contribution to the goal of education for all. The literacy education is not so easy recognized by all people in the world.
For the children and adults, knowledge and skill are like the most important light how to survive as the human-being in our changing society. If our children have no skills and knowledge for the reading and writing, they can’t improve their daily life, thinking and survival skills. Book can provide the useful and interesting knowledge and information. Children need the happiness and prosperity through by books and reading materials about knowledge and skills. For this purpose, we have established International NGO called ICLC-International Center for Literacy and Culturen,Tokyo in 1997 based on my UNESCO activities in Asia and the Pacific region for twenty years.
For the promote harmony and solidarity among people in the world through joint works on literacy and culture and encourage marginalized/disadvantaged people, especially children and women through transferring information and innovative skills, and now setting up the Children library in the jails for imprisoned children in Pakistan. Children in the jail who are 10-18 years are asking the much knowledge as hunger of the knowledge. They need hope by knowledge. We have been set up 5 libraries in the jails and we are also promoting the Joint publication program for the children in Peace for South Asia including India and Pakistan since 1998 and me myself writing the stories for the children and adults, these books has been translating and publishing in more than twenty countries in Asia. Our Asia is so rich in oral tradition; therefore we are also making the books based on these oral traditions for the children.
When I have been working for the children of the Non-Formal Community schools in Pakistan from 1997 to 2000... I was quite shocked to know that most of the children requested to use the paper and Note book for writing and expressing, of course they have a own traditional small blackboard in their hand. At nearly all the schools, students from ages 5 to 14 were using a small this is a small wooden board upon which white mud is applied. Ink made from black powder dissolved in water is used with a bamboo stylus to write on the dried mud surface. I noted the convenience of being able to use the same board repeatedly and, conversely, how troublesome it is to have to recoat the board between each use. I will never forget the sight of many children shivering as they washed off and reapplied the mud paste in rivers and streams in midwinter, and the freshly spread mud does not soon dry on winter days. Literacy and paper are like the two sides of a coin. The role of paper is a barometer of culture itself, and the amount of paper used in a country seems to be proportionate to the rate of literacy made line paintings of various animals, people and everyday scenes. Interestingly, all the animals they portrayed in the act of defecating? As proof of their being alive? Here in this pre-literate village, a fire was kindled in the hearts of the Kalasha people who had long waited for such a medium for their expression. This was the kind of situation I had envisioned for non-formal community education to open the door to literacy. The workshop with the Kalasha people continued, punctuated by shouts of surprise and joy as the participants expressed and recorded their own culture on their homemade paper consumption and destruction of forests. Pakistan and most other developing countries, however, produce very little wood pulp for paper, and are therefore dependent upon imports. As a result, notebooks are extremely costly. How could this dilemma be addressed?
But paper and notebook is so expensive therefore I have studied how to produce hand made paper from local wasted materials and trained more than 1500 peoples in Pakistan. It is very important to clearly connect knowledge and information gained through literacy with opportunity for increased income and improved living environment. These encouragements will be bringing out the great confidence and prosperity of the peoples for their literacy education.
When I was the adviser for the literacy education in Asia, I was quite shocked to know that some politician delivered speech that in some countries has been thinking literacy should be utilized for the developing the nuclear way. Literacy education makes possible such great developments in scientific technology. As the number of schools increases, we can look forward to ever greater advances in nuclear technology. If literacy is to be applied to objectives such as development of nuclear weapons, then these skills are
perhaps best left undeveloped. As my heart rebelled against the view expressed by the honorable minister, my mind echoed with the words “human literacy.”
Literacy needs to be attended by a philosophy, a direction. It is not only a question of whether or not one can read, write and calculate, for it is the humanness of the individual, with a consciousness of basic values and objectives shared among all humanity, that makes literacy a rich asset for both the individual and society. How often has the written word been employed in bringing unhappiness and even death to people? Even now this is happening. Expressive capacity, knowledge, and technology made possible through written characters should be applied with recognition of the responsibilities of the user. Literacy exists to empower the human being, dispel misunderstanding, prevent conflict, and make the world a place where mutual understanding and trust can bring people together.
Then and there, I was inspired to try to construct a Human Literacy Index (HLI) as a barometer of sorts by which to somewhat objectively measure the degree to which the literacy abilities of an individual are being put to use for the good of humanity.
We are now facing the New Information ages in 21st Century. In this Century, “Computer literacy” and “media literacy” have recently come into widely use. They refer to the totality of communication skills required to survive in computerized society today. This century will see the development of ever more varied and rapid communications with computers. When such advances are directed to functionality and success only in the market economy with little or no consideration for human values, the alienation that results can be crippling. Up until now, the narrow definition of literacy as the culture of written characters has precluded full nurturing of communication with nature and other people through the senses of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell, along with non-sensory perception, i.e., “the sixth sense.” Particularly, children in many countries have lost the opportunity for development of rich imagination and creativity by the over-emphasis upon reading and writing skills in their education with nature. As a result, humanistic receptivity and expressive abilities are often severely underdeveloped. Only in a peaceful setting can literacy programs flourish. Reading and writing must bepromoted, not as a means of dividing humanity, but as a web of understanding to link individuals and societies help bring hope to the illiterate person to whom the future belongs.
* photo taken by Taeko Kurokawa in Kashimir