Washington, D.C., September 11, 2012 — The Association of American Publishers and The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program honor improvements in worldwide literacy with a joint event at the Rayburn House Office Building on September 12 entitled, “Storytime in Asia: Celebrating Global Literacy and Improved Access to Information.”
Through UNESCO’s Education for All initiative, the international community has pledged to improve adult literacy levels by 50% between 2000 and 2015. There has been marked improvement; developing countries, in particular, have made the steepest gains with an 11% increase in literacy rates in the past decade. However, 775 million adults – 64% of whom are women – still lack basic reading and writing skills. And despite great progress, South and West Asia have one of the lowest literacy rates and account for half of the global illiterate population.
Participants include Shane Armstrong, executive vice president and president at Scholastic International; Ellen Laipson, president and chief executive officer of the Stimson Center and trustee of The Asia Foundation; Luisa Simpson, executive director of International Copyright Enforcement and Trade Policy at the Association of American Publishers; champions of education and literacy from the U.S. Congress; Asian diplomatic representatives; and publishing, education, and development professionals.
In addition to the Capitol Hill event, The Asia Foundation is marking International Literacy Day with story writing contests, teacher training workshops, book donations, and more, in 10 Asian countries. The events take place in capital cities as well as some of the most remote corners of Asia, from a rural village in eastern Indonesia to an underprivileged school in New Delhi and the Children’s Book Palace in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
The events are part of a larger Books for Asia initiative called Storytime in Asia, a month-long campaign that celebrates the transformative power of children’s books by providing critically needed reading material to the world’s poorest students. More than 1,700 in-need schools serving two million children across 17 countries in developing Asia will benefit from Storytime in Asia as a result of the contributions of an extraordinary coalition of world-class children’s book publishers: Scholastic; Penguin Young Readers Group; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; and ABRAMS. Scholastic Inc., the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, provided a lead donation of 100,000 books.
OOCL, one of the world’s leading container shipping companies, well recognized for supporting educational and community outreach efforts, will underwrite transportation costs to countries receiving books across the region.
One of the longest-running and most effective programs of its kind, Books for Asia provides brand-new books and educational materials to schools, universities, research institutes, and public libraries in 19 developing countries. Each year, Books for Asia donates approximately 1 million books and reaches an estimated 9 million people. In addition, through its Access4Asia initiative, Books for Asia pilots innovative projects that use technology as a tool to improve education and access to information.