NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ758748
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0010-8146
Rights, Obligations, Priorities: Where Does Adult Literacy Rank?
Oxenham, John
Convergence, v37 n3 p41-50 2004
The World Bank is a body that declares its vision to be a world free of poverty. It has long recognised that poverty and illiteracy are closely correlated and that illiteracy is a hindrance to economic and social development. The 180 or so governments that own the Bank have declared literacy to be a human right, so the Bank itself presumably also acknowledges that right. It would be natural then to expect that the Bank would support efforts to raise literacy rates in its member countries, not only through ensuring the universality of primary schooling, but also through providing appropriate educational opportunities for women and men who live in poverty, have not had a primary education, and are illiterate. However, in this regard, the Bank's behavior has apparently been as inconsistent as that of many of its owners. In a reversal of stance in 1997, the Bank began sponsoring studies and experiments to assay what literacy programs can do and achieve. The Bank has since 1997 been helping 18 countries in Africa set up fresh adult education-with-literacy programs. In this article, the author discusses whether literacy is such a fundamental right that, irrespective of any "instrumental" development effects, the Bank should not only lend more in support of efforts to promote it, but should actually pressure some of its poorest owners/borrowers to get themselves deeper into debt for the purpose. The author also provides a general overview of the issues of literacy from the viewpoint of the World Bank. (Contains 3 notes.)
National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. Renaissance House, 20 Princess Road West, Leicester, LE1 6TP, UK. Tel: +44-1162-044200; Fax: +44-1162-044262; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Adult Basic Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Africa