Carol Medel-Añonuevo

Carol Medel-Añonuevo, Deputy Director and Senior Programme coordinator of the UIL, presented a summary of the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment, which is coordinated from the UNESCO Institute for Life-Long Learning.

Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (2005 – 2015)

UNESCO's Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE) is a global stra tegic framework for collaborative action to enhance literacy efforts in those countries that have a literacy rate of less than 50 % or an adult population of more than 10 million without literacy competencies.

The overall goal of LIFE is to empower people, especially rural women and girls, who have inadequate literacy skills and competencies. The immediate objectives of LIFE are:

  • to reinforce the national and international commitment to literacy through advocacy and communication;
  • to support the articulation of policies for sustainable literacy within sector-wide and national development frameworks;
  • to strengthen national capacities for programme design, management and implementation;
  • to enhance countries’ innovative initiatives and practices in providing literacy learning opportunities.


As a global strategy supported and led by UNESCO, LIFE opera tions will be country-led, respond to country-specific needs and pri orities, and correspond to national capacities. UIL's role includes the overall coordination of LIFE, as well as the provision of technical assistance at the country level.

LIFE will be implemented in 35 countries with a literacy rate of less than 50 % or a population of more than 10 million without literacy competencies. It will be imple mented, over a 10-year period, through three progressive phases. The first phase will start in 2006, the second in 2008, and the third in 2010. In 2011, evaluation and assessment will be undertaken. From 2012 to 2015 the emphasis will be on ensuring the sustainability of what has been achieved in earlier phases. The 11 countries which are included in the first phase (Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Egypt, Morocco, Su dan, Yemen, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Haiti) started their process in 2006 with preparatory activities such as situational analysis, launch ing and validation workshops and formulation of country action plans, and some of them are implementing major activities in the framework of extra-budgetary funded capacity-building for EFA projects.

But there are also some challenges. The programme has found it difficult to take off after several years of neglect; governments still need to allocate resources for LIFE; there is a need to build capacity in all areas and to bring together stakeholders. Most of all there is the challenge of attracting sufficient priority to LIFE. 

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