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On the occasion of the 576th Hangeul Day, which commemorates the invention of the Korean alphabet (Hangeul) by King Sejong in 1446 and hosted by the Government of the Republic of Korea, two UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize laureates from India and the United Kingdom embarked on a cultural study tour in Seoul from 7 to 9 October 2022.
Before 1446, Koreans used Chinese characters as the primary script to write the Korean language. Due to huge grammatical differences between Korean and Chinese and therefore the difficulty of mastering both languages, only people from the elite class were literate. The creation of Hangeul allowed Korean people to become literate regardless of their social status. Named after King Sejong the Great, the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize is to reward the efforts of institutions, organizations or individuals for their contribution to the fight against illiteracy. 
The study tour was organized by the Federation of Korean Language and Cultural Center under the commission of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Korea. This was the first time the study tour resumed to be conducted since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. 
During the three-day trip, two representatives of the winning programmes from India and the United Kingdom participated in several cultural visits and activities with a focus on the impact of the Korean alphabet on the rich and diverse Korean culture. 
Mr Kadey Soren, Deputy Director of Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, represented the institute’s winning ‘Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education’ programme, which tackles the challenges of poor retention of indigenous students in elementary schools due to classroom language barriers and teachers’ incapacity to deal with multilingual and multicultural classrooms effectively.  
Mr Rafael Martins Galupa, Member of the Senior Management Committee of Native Scientist, represented the organization’s programme ‘Native Scientists’, which conducts innovative workshops to connect migrant children with scientists who share the same native language as the learners, allowing scientific subjects to be learned in their mother tongue, fostering both scientific literacy and language development. 
Mr Soren and Mr Galupa first visited Korean National Commission for UNESCO, where they presented their award-winning programmes and shared their experiences with representatives from the national commission. They later visited the National Hangeul Museum and participated in multiple events in the Hangeul week programmes. The two representatives were also invited to visit historic sites including Suwon Hwaseong Fortress and Changdeokgung Palace.
On 8 and 9 September 2022, the ‘Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education’ programme from India, the ‘Native Scientists’ programme from the United Kingdom and the ‘Madrasa Arabic Lessons’ programme from the United Arab Emirates were announced winners of UNESCO’s 2022 King Sejong Literacy Prize at the two-day hybrid international event celebrating International Literacy Day. This year’s International Literacy Day was celebrated under the theme of “Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces”. Three outstanding programmes from Brazil, Malaysia, and South Africa were also awarded with the UNESCO Confucius Literacy Prize during this year’s celebration.
UNESCO International Literacy Prizes aim to reward excellent and innovative programmes that promote literacy. The UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize was established in 1989 with the support of the Government of the Republic of Korea. It gives special consideration to mother language-based literacy development.


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