Brazilian winner of IFLA’s Guust van Wesemael Literacy Prize 2009
01 May 2009
Every odd year IFLA awards the Guust van Wesemael Literacy Prize to sponsor a public or school library in a developing country to purchase books and materials for activities in the field of literacy promotion.
This year the €3000 Prize was awarded to the Instituto Dois Irmãos (i2i), a non-profit organisation based in the favela (slum, shanty town) of Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. i2i relies heavily on private donations, fundraising events, and the cooperation of volunteers for its existence.
Rocinha is one of the largest favelas of Rio de Janeiro with an estimated population of 250,000. The situation for its inhabitants is very difficult from the perspectives of education and job opportunities. The absence of civil and other governmental authorities as well as the influence of drug gangs are the main causes of the considerably lower educational and literacy levels and general standards of living compared to the urbanized areas of Rio de Janeiro.
i2i’s mission is to provide educational opportunities to the children, youth and adults of Rocinha through local and international community service and cultural exchange. One of the primary objectives is to increase literacy levels within the favela. For this purposes there is a reading room which currently holds nearly 2,700 books, and provides useful materials to students of all levels (children, youth and entirely or partially literate adults). Because the print collection consists entirely of private donations—the vast majority of which are second hand—educational books are most often outdated. The reading room is fortunately already equipped with an online catalogue and lending system.
The Prize will be used to bring much needed improvements to the reading room. Most significantly, the selection of books available for educational purposes will be expanded and professionalized so that the reading room can contribute to a greater extent to i2i’s mission, e.g. through further incorporation of the reading room into classes (literacy, language, tutoring and reading classes). This includes purchasing dictionaries, teacher’s books and students’ text/work books, additional reading room furniture and educational toys and games.
For more information about the IFLA Guust Van Wesemael Literacy Prize, including past awards and details on how to enter, please see our Guust van Wesemael webpage.
This Prize was established in 1991 by IFLA's Executive board to commemorate the late Guust van Wesemael who was Coordinator of IFLA's Professional Activities from 1979 to 1990 and Deputy Secretary General of IFLA from 1979 to 1991. Funded by donations, the Guust van Wesemael Literacy Prize will be awarded biennially until the funds are exhausted.