The Global Alliance for Literacy within the framework of lifelong learning (GAL)

Literacy is an integral part of the right to education and the foundation of lifelong learning as well as a driver for sustainable development. It empowers individuals, improves livelihoods, enables greater participation in society and the labour market, benefits child and family health and nutrition, and reduces poverty.

Despite the concerted efforts globally, an estimated 763 million adults worldwide still lack basic literacy and numeracy skills – two-thirds of whom are women. Southern Asia is home to almost one-half of this global youth and adult population with no basic literacy and numeracy, while 27 per cent live in sub-Saharan Africa. The other 10 per cent are in East and South-East Asia, 9 per cent in Northern Africa, while about 4 per cent live in Latin America and the Caribbean and another 4 per cent in Western Asia.

Concerted effort is needed in policy development and financial investment to safeguard literacy for all, especially those from greater disadvantage. To this end, the Global Alliance for Literacy within the Framework of Lifelong Learning (GAL) was launched in 2016 to advance global literacy efforts and address challenges to promoting literacy around the world. The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) serves as GAL Secretariat.

What is GAL?

The Global Alliance for Literacy within the Framework of Lifelong Learning (GAL) was initiated in 2016 as an alliance of the countries with adult literacy rate below 50% and the nine countries with the largest populations worldwide which are home to 67 per cent of the global population of youth and adults who lack basic literacy and numeracy. Today, GAL is made up of 30 countries strongly committed to improving youth and adult literacy.

GAL engages a multiplicity of stakeholders to advocate for the importance of youth and adult literacy and to catalyse in an effective and coordinated manner efforts to improve literacy rates in the countries that need it the most.

GAL’s objectives

  • Improve GAL stakeholders’ (intersectoral) collaboration for literacy and numeracy development at international, regional, national and local levels;
  • Increase resources for the implementation of literacy efforts of the 30 GAL countries by strengthening political will, commitments and public awareness;
  • Strengthen GAL member countries’ capacity to formulate, implement and monitor education policies and programmes for the advancement of literacy and numeracy;
  • Enhance knowledge creation and sharing for GAL member countries’ evidence-based literacy policy designs and implementation.

GAL Strategy 2020-2025

Closely aligned with the UNESCO Strategy for Youth and Adult Literacy (2020–2025), GAL’s Strategy was adopted in April 2020 and functions as a guiding framework for the Alliance’s work. The strategy sets out five areas of focus to advance literacy and numeracy in GAL member countries: (1) policy and planning; (2) equity and inclusion; (3) innovation; (4) data and monitoring; and (5) partnerships and cooperation.

These areas of focus target youth and adults from the most disadvantaged backgrounds to support the development of their literacy and numeracy skills, and thereby their potential for progress in their personal, community and work lives.

Learn more about the GAL Strategy 2020–2025