It may well be true that we have never had so much experience of literacy and known so much about the significance of literate environments, life in oral societies, the training of literacy instructors, the need to produce readable literacy and post-literacy materials, the effectiveness of using the mother tongue, the relationship between thought, language and writing, the important place of literacy in adult education and lifelong learning, the likely needs for investment in school and out-of-school literacy if we are to meet the Dakar Goals by 2015, and much else besides.
Nonetheless, although the vital need to deploy all human and capital resources is accepted, these have been strictly limited. This is the case in most of the countries affected which, to use a visual image, continue to push before them a great bow-wave of children and young people who never go to school, and a far larger number of illiterate adults. Let it be said at once that the practical achievements made under what are often extremely difficult conditions deserve recognition, but at the same time, everyone knows that they are by no means enough. And if we look at what money is spent on worldwide - the huge amounts consumed in the various theatres of war, or the vast sums devoted around the world to cosmetics, the feeding of pet animals and smoking (and its consequences in hospital) - we can only feel very let down and frustrated. If only a respectable proportion of it were made available for literacy...
Back to what we know. The new 2006 Education for All General Monitoring Report, "Literacy for Life", is a rich fund of old and new knowledge. It is an inexhaustible resource, especially if we take into account not only the report itself but also the many background papers. We do just that in this issue of the journal: we have read our way through the large number of preparatory studies that were commissioned. We can only recommend that readers do this for themselves if they can. However, we know how difficult it is to do this via the Internet in many of our project countries for many of our partners, and we have acted accordingly. The articles published in the second section of this issue under "Literacy in Education for All" are studies commissioned for the above-named report. We reprint them by kind permission of UNESCO. In some cases the papers have been shortened. The full texts and those not reprinted can be found at: www.unesco.orgleducation
The new media and information technologies are growing in importance. In many respects they govern our everyday lives - even in adult education. We should like to expand the debate about this in the journal, and would welcome articles and materials on the subject for later issues. We already take up two aspects of this theme here: on the one hand, through the more theoretical discussion of the very real gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" in access to use of computers, the Internet and all the other things that the bright new digital world has to offer. And on the other, through two more practice-based reports from Africa and Asia about the local situation.
Lastly, we include a paper about another new situation. This relates to a development within our own profession which has already had an appreciable impact in Europe and will, we are sure, spread to other parts of the world if is not already well advanced there too: the trend towards national or transnational qualifications frameworks for the certification of learning and competences, and the accreditation of institutions and educational provision. This trend has generally begun in initial and continuing vocational training, but is becoming increasingly current also in non-formal and informal areas of general, cultural and social adult education. We should also welcome a discussion of this topic, and invite readers to use the journal for that purpose.
This issue is accompanied by a CD containing all the articles which have appeared in Issues 30 to 65 of "Adult Education and Development", sorted by issue, author, subject and region.
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