Chinese top legislator Chen Zhili told an international conference in New York Monday that China has always put literacy as one of its most basic policy objectives.
Speaking as one of the six panelists at the White House Symposium on Advancing Global Literacy: Building a Foundation for Freedom, hosted by US First Lady Laura Bush, Chen said that literacy is the basis for the freedom of all people and the prerequisite for them to merge into modern society.
Chen, vice chairwoman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, the top legislative body, was the guest of Laura Bush.
In her keynote speech titled "Promoting Literacy: Sharing Freedom, Harmony and Prosperity," Chen said: "Literacy provides long-term benefits to the uneducated and the under-educated. It is the cornerstone for social equality and freedom."
Chen also briefed the participants on the progress that China has made in wiping out its once high illiteracy rates.
"Because of the unswerving efforts made in the past 59 years, especially the 30 years since the opening up of the country, the number of illiterate people has greatly declined," she said.
"In the year 2000, the fifth national census indicated that the illiteracy rate among the young and the middle-aged had dropped to below 4 percent, which is a great contribution to the global literacy campaign."
In September 2006, Mrs. Bush hosted the White House Conference on Global Literacy (WHCGL) to emphasize the need for sustained global and country-level leadership to address the issue of illiteracy.
Some 40 first ladies, ministers of education, and literacy practitioners from around the world attended this year's conference. The meeting underscored how literacy is linked to gainful employment, good health, and civic participation.
(Xinhua News Agency September 23, 2008)