Launch of the Global Alliance for Literacy within the Framework of Lifelong Learning (GAL)


8 September 2016

During this year’s International Literacy Day events on 8 September 2016 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, launched the Global Alliance for Literacy within the Framework of Lifelong Learning (GAL). GAL is a multi-stakeholder partnership aiming to promote literacy over the next fifteen years in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This initiative will be coordinated on behalf of UNESCO by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg. Members of the Alliance will include representatives of Member States, regional organizations, UN specialized agencies and institutes, donors, the private sector and civil society. The Alliance will work towards realizing the literacy-related target of Sustainable Development Goal 4, namely to ensure that by 2030 ‘all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy’.

Background to GAL

Literacy has been one of UNESCO’s core mandates since the organization was founded. At its 68th session (2013), the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) expressed deep concern that the world’s literacy agenda was still unfinished. The UNGA recognized the importance of national programmes and measures to promote literacy worldwide and asked UNESCO to strengthen its coordinating and catalyzing role. The UNGA also encouraged UNESCO to continue consulting with Member States and development partners in order to create a literacy vision and agenda for the years following the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003–2012). In its 37th Session (2013), UNESCO’s General Conference resolved ‘to continue consultations with Member States and development partners in order to put in place a multi-stakeholder partnership for literacy that would ensure long-term global literacy efforts.’ It is against this background that more than 100 experts from thirty-four countries welcomed and supported the proposal to create a Global Alliance for Literacy within the Framework of Lifelong Learning. These experts included representatives of the UN, governments, donors, national and international non-governmental organizations and the private sector

Purpose of GAL

Given that literacy plays a direct or indirect role in many of the Sustainable Development Goals, GAL aims to help Member States make better progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. GAL will promote an integrated, innovative and inclusive approach to literacy that recognizes the interlinkages and integrated nature of the Sustainable Development Goals. It will encourage policy coherence, foster innovation through the use of technology, expand literacy learning opportunities to all age groups and make literacy learning more relevant. In short, GAL will stimulate and promote collaborative programmes that connect literacy with the sustainable development agenda within a lifelong and life-wide approach.

How will GAL be managed?

GAL will be facilitated and advised by a core group led by UNESCO and consisting of representatives of Member States, intergovernmental and donor organizations, civil society and private-sector representatives, and experts. The secretariat will be hosted by UIL at Hamburg.

 Progress to date

The first meeting of the GAL Core Group was held on 23 May 2016 in Paris. Thirty-five members of Member States, regional organizations, civil society, academia and the private sector recommended a number of activities focused on achieving GAL’s key objectives. The Core Group recommended that UIL take preparatory steps to formally launch the Alliance on 8 September 2016 as part of International Literacy Day events in Paris and around the world. The second meeting of the Core Group is scheduled for 7 September 2016 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. One of the key items on the agenda of this meeting is to develop a road map for GAL’s activities and identify thematic areas that need close attention and action.


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