THOMASIAN-led youth organization Streets to Schools won this year’s Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Okayama Award for its “Ladders to Literacy” initiative that promotes literacy among Filipino children.

Qjiel Mariano, a nursing junior who heads Streets to Schools, said that through Ladders to Literacy, the organization aims to address the learning crisis among children regardless of social status by helping them develop reading and writing skills, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a greater call to action by the World Literacy Foundation that reading and writing must be championed amidst the school lockdowns,” Mariano told the Varsitarian.

“Not having literacy skills would amount to a lifetime of inequality as reading and writing is a fundamental skill and a necessity to exercise the right of a person to information,” he added.

Collaborating with partner communities, Streets to Schools created storybooks that discussed topics such as children’s rights, poverty, inequality, women empowerment, public health, and climate change, which are aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.

The organization won a $3,000 grant for their victory.

Mariano said his organization would produce more storybooks using the cash grant.

The “Wise Wayz Water Care” program of Triple P – Partners for People and Planet from South Africa won the same award and grant.

The ESD Okayama Award is an award that recognizes and supports the promotion of local community efforts for the sustainable development of education around the world.

The selection committee consisted of the six leading organizations in ESD, including United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) Bangkok, Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Asia-Pacific Cultural Center for Unesco, Japan Council on Education for Sustainable Development, The Goi Peace Foundation, and the Okayama ESD Promotion Commission.


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