The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, has named Accra (Ghana) as UNESCO World Book Capital for 2023, following the evaluation of the World Book Capital Advisory Committee.
After Guadalajara (Mexico) in 2022, the city of Accra has been selected for its strong focus on young people and their potential to contribute to the culture and wealth of Ghana. Accra’s proposed programme seeks to use the power of books to engage these young people, as an effective way of skilling up the next generation.
The city proposed to the committee a broad programme that targets marginal groups with high levels of illiteracy including women, youth, migrants, street children and persons with disabilities.
Some of the measures to be implemented include the reinforcing of school and community infrastructure and institutional support for lifelong learning, in order to foster the culture of reading. The program will also champion the publishing sector and other creative industries. The main rationale is to encourage professional skills development to stimulate the country’s socio-economic transformation.
Activities under the program
There are several activities that will take place under the program. These activities will include the introduction of mobile libraries to reach marginalized groups. It also includes the holding of workshops to promote reading and writing of books in different Ghanaian languages. Additionally, there will be the establishment of skills and training centres for unemployed youth and the organization of competitions to showcase Ghanaian arts and culture and promote inclusivity.
The application from Accra also includes a strong human rights dimension. This aims to raise public awareness about freedom of information and expression, building on its own promotion of these rights as well as its involvement in World Press Freedom Day.
Cities designated as UNESCO World Book Capital undertake to promote books and reading for all ages and population groups, within and across national borders, and to organize a programme of activities for the year.
Bid by the Minister for Education
It can be recalled that the Government of Ghana through the Minister for Education and Ghana’s representative to UNESCO, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, made known Ghana’s intentions to bid for the UNESCO World Book Capital for the year 2023 somewhere in April this year.
Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum explained that the Accra World Book Capital will serve to highlight the importance of books and the culture of reading to change minds towards social and economic transformation.
The Minister also averred that it will promote tourism and draw international attention to the rich indigenous culture and heritage of our country and Africa as a whole.
UNESCO World Book Capital
The concept of the UNESCO World Book Capital was conceived by the International Publishers Association (IPA), six years after the launch of the World Book and Copyright Day, which is celebrated on 23rd April every year, by UNESCO.
The title was first awarded in 2001 to Madrid (Spain), and has since been awarded every year to a different city. Upon designation, the winner city is to promote books and reading among all the various age groups in the city in particular, and internationally in general.
The designated city holds the title from April 23 of that year, to April 22 of the following year. During that period, the city organizes a number of lively events around books, literature and reading.