HC Deb 26 March 2002 vol 382 cc867-8W
Mrs. Irene Adams

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action the Government are taking to alleviate illiteracy in the Third World. [43931]

Clare Short

Helping developing countries achieve the millennium development goal of universal primary education by 2015 is DFID's major focus for tackling illiteracy. Increasing access to good quality primary education and ensuring that children are literate when they leave school is essential for development and poverty reduction. Since 1997 the Government has committed over £650 million to support sustainable education systems in developing countries able to provide high quality primary education for all children. We will do more.

We will also give increasing attention to helping developing countries tackle adult illiteracy and poverty reduction. Improving literacy practice for adults continues to be an integral part of many different sectoral programmes supported by DFID, such as transport, water, health, small business development, environment, livelihoods and governance. Our new Background Briefing paper, "Improving livelihoods for the poor: the role of literacy", examines the way in which literacy features in such programmes and the key issues that have emerged as different parts of DFID have considered the ways in which literacy and poverty interrelate. It highlights principles of good practice (drawing on recent experience), examines potential entry points and identifies challenges for DFID in giving greater priority to literacy in our commitment to poverty reduction.

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