chapter  9
The Experimental World Literacy Program
A Unique International Effort Revisited
ByArthur Gillette
Pages 21

A high point in United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization literacy efforts came in the period from 1967 to 1974 with the organization of the Experimental World Literacy Program (EWLP). The self-criticism of a major UN development effort was also grist for the mill of observers who doubted the capacity of intergovernmental bureaucracy to come to grips with such a widespread and complex problem as illiteracy. An issue at stake is the degree of rigidity and uniformity that is necessary and possible in an international literacy strategy. The major lesson to be derived from EWLP as regards the most appropriate institutional arrangements for literacy is that there is no magic solution to the problem. The problem was thought to be mainly technical in nature, and it was only logical that its solution should also be sought primarily through technical innovation.