Impact / News


September 8, 2020

United World Schools

4 mins

We are thrilled to announce that we have been awarded the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize for our work in improving literacy rates in remote regions of Myanmar.

Our innovative programmes target ethnic-minority children who cannot attend government schools as they do not speak the national language, Burmese, in which the curriculum is taught. We provide primary education to these children by employing and training local teachers who can speak the same language as them.

The UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize was launched in 1989 and rewards the activities of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) displaying merit and achieving particularly effective results in contributing to the fight for literacy. It gives special consideration to the creation, development and dissemination of mother-tongue language education programmes in developing countries. We are the first UK-based organisation to win the award. The prize consists of a sum of US$20,000, a silver medal and a certificate.

The prize comes at a crucial time as education providers worldwide grapple with how to continue schooling during the Covid-19 pandemic. We have been providing low-tech distance education to children in Myanmar while schools have been closed. We are now continuing local-level support to ensure the safe reopening of schools. 

Matthew Lodge, UK Ambassador to UNESCO, said “On behalf of the UK Delegation to UNESCO, I would like to offer our heartfelt congratulations to United World Schools on winning the prestigious UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize. This is a fitting recognition for their community project in a remote part of Myanmar. United World Schools have been undertaking this project in close cooperation with the local government, in order to provide the tools so that local children are able to receive their basic education in their native language. This project opens up new opportunities for children, and is an excellent example of how dedication, partnership and commitment can help in the battle against illiteracy and in the protection of indigenous languages, traditions and culture.”  

James Bridge, Secretary-General of the UK National Commission for UNESCO said, “United World Schools winning the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize is an exceptional achievement. It is a tribute to UWS and their partners in Myanmar and especially the teachers, indigenous community and the school children themselves. The work will lead to improved educational outcomes for the children across the board and opportunities for them and their community.” 

Dr Kay Khaing Win, United World Schools Myanmar Country Director, said: “We are honoured UNESCO have recognised our work in Myanmar and the tremendous impact of our locally-recruited teachers. Thanks to them, thousands of children who speak minority languages are able to access a quality education. We hope this prize will make them feel even more proud of the amazing work they are doing and motivate them to continue delivering mother-tongue based education.”

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