A THREE-day conference looking at ways to tackle illiteracy across the world is about to start in Oxford.

The World Literacy Summit, sponsored by Oxford University Press, will see 300 international delegates descend on the city from Monday until Wednesday.

Those attending will hear how the Oxford Mail-backed Oxfordshire Reading Campaign has helped to improve literacy levels in county primary schools.

HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands will open the conference at the Sheldonian Theatre in Broad Street, Oxford.

As part of the event, Oxford Mail readers can get a discount when buying books at Oxford University Press Bookshop in High Street.

Ten readers are also being invited to enter a competition to win book prizes.

More than 70 speakers will address the delegates, sharing expertise from organisations across the globe, from countries as diverse as South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Jordan, Mexico, Yemen, India and Europe.

Melinda Tilley, the county council’s cabinet member for education, said: “I am very much looking forward to attending the summit and sharing how the Oxford Mail-backed Reading Campaign has made a difference across the county in the last 18 months.”

The keynote address will be delivered by Haifa Al Kaylani, chairwoman of the Arab International Women’s Forum and a role model for women throughout the Middle East.

Mrs Al Kaylani said: “The link between literacy, economic progress and job creation is a tangible one and will be the focus of this timely conference.

“Our participation in this summit gives us the opportunity to discuss how literacy is changing lives in the Middle East and to highlight the personal, political, cultural, social and economic benefits of literacy wherever you are in the world.”

David Perrin, chief executive officer of the World Literacy Summit, said: “Oxford recognises how literacy changes lives and how vital it is that we find new, radical and engaging strategies to help everyone to read and write to a life-enhancing standard.

“The difference that makes is incalculable, whether you live in Oxford or a rural village in Zimbabwe.

“We embrace the opportunity to debate these critical issues, alongside senior representatives from the city and the region and would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors, Oxford University Press, for helping to make the summit possible. “

Nigel Portwood, chief executive of Oxford University Press, added: "Literacy is fundamental to enabling people to reach their potential.

“It equips students with a foundational skill that they need in order to learn other subjects and progress further in their lives.

“In enhancing our collective understanding of the power of literacy, the challenges to literacy development, and how we meet those challenges, we can make a real difference to people's lives."

Oxford University Press Bookshop deputy manager Joseph Kennedy said: "Children who love reading have a headstart in life.

“The Easter holidays provide the perfect opportunity for parents and children to read something new and exciting together.”


TO celebrate the World Literacy Summit, the organisers and their sponsors, Oxford University Press, have joined with the Oxford Mail to encourage everyone to read something new.

Reading tips can be found at oxfordowl.co.uk

Every visitor who signs up to the website can enter an exclusive competition to win one of 10 fabulous book prizes worth £30 each.

To enter, just email julie@worldliteracysummit.org with the answer to this question:  How many free eBooks does Oxford Owl have on its website?

The first 10 correct entries drawn at random after the closing date (TBC) will be deemed the winners.

In the meantime, every visitor to the Oxford University Press Bookshop at 116-117 High Street can claim a 10 per cent discount on any book or books purchased when presenting the voucher below.

The offer is valid any time until September 30.