The Qufu International Confucius Cultural Festival opened Sunday in Qufu City, birthplace of the Chinese philosopher, in east China's Shandong Province.
More than 3,000 diplomats, UNESCO officials, representatives from Confucius Institues and Confucius' decendants attended the opening ceremony.
A grand ceremony of worshipping Confucius will be held Monday to celebrate the 2,560th birthday of the great thinker. Organizers will also hold performances at the Confucius Temple and the World Confucian Conference.
The World Confucian Conference, sponsored by the Culture Ministry and Shandong government, opened earlier Sunday. It has attracted 306 scholars from 21 countries and regions and will focus on heritage and development of Confucianism, as well as the relationship between Confucianism and art.
Confucius (551-479 BC), a great educator and philosopher, founded Confucianism that deeply influenced later generations. He first set up private schools and enrolled students from all walks of life.
The annual festival dates back to 1984. An annual Confucius Cultural Award was set up during the festival. The first award went to Tu Weiming, a Havard-Yenching professor of Chinese history and philospophy and of Confucian Studies, and the China Confucius Foundation which has been committed to the study of the Chinese traditional culture since 1984.
The fourth UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy awarded two educational programs of Afghanistan and the Philippines.
The "Pashai Language Development Project" implemented by SERVE of Afghanistan provides meaningful literacy, livelihood, public health and nutrition education to about 1,000 Pashai ethnic minority annually, especially to women and girls, said Tang Qian, Deputy Assistant Director-General for Education of UNESCO.
The Municipal Literacy Coordinating Council, Municipality of Agoo of the Philippines, was awarded for its Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning Programme, which provide education and training opportunities to the area's 49 villages, Tang said.
Established in 2005, the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy rewards the activities of outstanding individuals, governments or governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations working in literacy for rural adults and out-of-school youth, particularly women and girls.
(Xinhua News Agency September 28, 2009)