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‘Literacy Challenge Forum 2020’ Highlights Regional Efforts to Combat Illiteracy, Proposes Solutions and Best Practices
Lifelong learning and modern practices in adult education and digital literacy are the main topics of discussion.

Illiteracy in the Arab world is set to be the primary subject of discussion at the inaugural ‘Literacy Challenge Forum 2020’, taking place in Dubai on February 24-25, where sessions will go on to explore the most pressing drawbacks the phenomenon causes, along with solutions to tackle them.

The Forum is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and with directives from H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF) – the entity organising the event in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The sessions bring together well-known speakers who represent various literacy committees and councils round the Arab world, along with professionals from UNDP and UNESCO, and a host of academics and experts from universities and institutions all around the Arab region. Some of the most remarkable names include Dena Assaf, United Nations Resident Coordinator for the UAE; Khaled Abdel Shafi, the UNDP’s Director of the Regional Hub for Arab States; and Dr Hegazi Idris, Regional Programme Specialist in Basic and Adult Education.

A session on day one is set to explore the topic of ‘Achieving Sustainable Development Goals via Lifelong Learning’, carried out by Arne Carlsen, Professor at the University of Latvia’s Faculty of Education, Psychology, and Art, while another takes a closer look at ‘Adult Education from the Perspective of Continuous Learning and Lifelong Learning’ with
Najoua Fezzaa Ghriss, Professor at the Higher Institute of Education and Continuous Training, University of Tunis, and Dr Sami Nassar, Professor of Education at Cairo University’s School of Graduate Studies of Education.

The Forum also sheds light on ‘The State of Adult Learning in the Arab Region’ in a session led by Dr Ashour Ahmed Amry, President of the General Authority for Adult Education in Egypt, Abdessamih Mahmoud, Director General of the National Agency for the battle against illiteracy (ANLCA) in Morocco and Muhamad Hamad, Vice President of the fifth Meeting of the Higher Committee for the Arab Decade for Literacy in Sudan.

MBRF’s CEO His Excellency Jamal bin Huwaireb asserted that the topics of discussions chosen for the ‘Literacy Challenge Forum 2020’ resonate with the vision of the UAE’s wise leadership – and Dubai’s, in unique – in terms of education. The event’s agenda was cautiously curated to cover all aspects of the illiteracy dilemma plaguing Arab nations, and explore solutions and global best practices to eradicate this obstacle standing in the way of Arab communities’ growth and development, H.E. added.

Also on the agenda is a session on ‘Digital Illiteracy and its Correlation with Development, Adult Education, and Learning’, providing Dr. Zahida Darwiche Jabbour, Professor of French and Francophone Literature at the Lebanese University; Dr Iqbal Samaloty, Secretary General of the Arab Network for Literacy and Adult Education; and Shadia Abdullah, Founder and Director of the Rawafed Development and Learning Centre.

Day two kicks off with a session on ‘Modern Trends and Strategies in Adult Education and Learning’, where speakers explore the findings of the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE), with Dr Hegazi Idris, Regional Programme Specialist in Basic and Adult Education; and Samah Shalaby, Assistant Programme Specialist at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning.

A session bringing together H.E. Jamal bin Huwaireb, CEO of MBRF, and Dr Yahia bin Ibrahim Al Mofarreh, Director of the General Department for Adult Education at Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education, discusses the ‘Integration of Regional Efforts to Combat Illiteracy in the Arab Region’, as well as children’s education during emergencies and asylum situations. The session sheds light on both the Arab Literacy Challenge and the Arab Decade for Adult Education.

Titled the ‘Role of Media in Combating Illiteracy’, another of the Forum’s sessions explores the reality of Arab media in combating illiteracy, suggesting solutions for a greater role the sector can play in that regard, while the following session presents the ‘Dubai Declaration on Modern Trends in Adult Education and Learning’. Furthermore, the event showcases the experiences of the winners in the Arab Literacy Challenge 2020.

The Literacy Challenge Forum 2020 is set to host a series of in-depth workshops, shedding light on regional and global studies and experiences related to illiteracy, and exploring the best practices most suitable to the realities and requirements of the Arab region. The event also includes a ceremony to honour individuals and companies who have made excellent achievements in their efforts to fight illiteracy, modernise education systems, and launch impactful literacy projects across the world.

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