Ferris State University’s Donald Green is playing an instrumental role in efforts to address the global literacy crisis.
Green, vice president for Extended and International Operations and dean of the College of Professional and Technological Studies, led the process to create the Oxford Declaration, considered a significant outcome of the World Literacy Summit held in Oxford, U.K. in April.
The inaugural summit, organized by the World Literacy Foundation, was attended by more than 200 participants from almost 50 countries, including world leaders, ambassadors, and education and business leaders. Its goal was to build awareness of the international literacy crisis and to “unite in a call to action.”
“Literacy is the basis for political freedom, for children to live to adulthood, for religious freedom,” said Green, who serves as chairman for WLF North America. “If you can’t read, you’re forced to believe what you are told. Reading gives you the right to make more choices. It’s a foundational piece to quality of life.”
A goal of the independent non-profit WLF, which believes education is the key to fighting poverty, was development of the Oxford Declaration as an outcome of the summit. The declaration is intended to combine services among literacy NGOs (non-governmental organizations associated with the United Nations) and world governments.
Green gathered contributions from delegates before the conference, including through a website (http://www.worldliteracy2012.org/) created by Ferris. The site provided delegates the opportunity to review and suggest edits to drafts of the declaration. The final draft, which resulted from work completed at the summit, can be found on the site.
The declaration pledges to improve teaching, curriculum and instructional materials, support assessment for literacy program improvement, increase gender and socio-economic equity and respect cultural differences.
“The foundation has been laid,” Green said.
The summit will be held every two years in Oxford to discuss developments and continue efforts. There also is discussion about regional summits.