President Bush, the U.S Secretaries of State and Education, and UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura attended the Global Literacy Conference in New York on September 18, 2006. In all, more than 200 first ladies and spouses, ministers of education, foundation representatives, library experts and nongovernmental organization representatives attended the half-day program.
First Lady Laura Bush gave the welcoming address, challenging governments to educate all people -- men, women and children, rich and poor -- and urged private-sector organizations to dedicate their resources to ending illiteracy. She said:
'Literacy instruction for women improves educational opportunities for their children -- women who can read are advocates for their children's education; literacy helps adults make informed decisions to protect their health and the health of their children; and literacy helps adults -- women and men -- learn the basic financial skills that generate income, that foster independence, and that boost local economies.'
Mrs. Bush then invited all governments to join with the United States in supporting LAMP. President Bush linked his push for democratic reform with the call for governments to embrace literacy programs:
'The simple act of teaching a child to read or an adult to read has the capacity to transform nations and yield the peace we all want. You can't realize the blessings of liberty if you can't read a ballot.'
The site of the conference -- the New York Public Library -- provided a moving testament to the power of reading. The conference was timed to coincide with the opening of 61st Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. It was held in seven languages and included a luncheon at which attendees shared reactions and ideas.
Mrs. Bush, who is the Honorary Ambassador for the United Nations Literacy Decade, used the meeting to announce a $1 million contribution from the United States to support UNESCO's Literacy Assessment and Monitoring Program (LAMP).
Mrs. Bush first announced the Conference at an event in Paris in April that coincided with the annual celebration of UNESCO's Education for All (EFA) Week. Peter Smith, UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Education, met with her twice in planning for the Conference.
Read the full Remarks of key speakers:
· The President and Mrs. BushRead the press release on the conference from:
· Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice
· Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
· UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura
Visit the Conference website.
John Daly, September 20, 2006.