Collection of Literacy Education Materials Donated by the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO

In June 2014, a collection of literacy education materials that had originally been published and used in the Asia-Pacific region was donated to the library by the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU). The collection has been developed by the ACCU since the 1970s. It contains about 2,300 volumes of teaching resources such as illustrated textbooks, booklets, and games which were prepared by local governments or NGOs to teach people (mainly adults) with literacy difficulties.

Four specialists provided us with a commentary on the significance of this collection (please see the links below):

1-2 Kitamura_vietnamReceiving the Materials Donated by the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO: Binding Together the Thoughts and Hopes Accumulated Along with the People of Asia
Yuto  KITAMURA (Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education, the University of Tokyo)


2-2 Nakamura_U-PARLThe Academic and Societal Value of the Literacy Education Materials Donated by the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
Yusuke NAKAMURA (Professor, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, the University of Tokyo)


07_ゾンカ語書店Bhutan’s Languages throughout History and Its Literacy Education
Hiroshi TAKAHASHI (Researcher, Japan Institute for Bhutan Studies, Writer/Editor for Chikyū no arukikata Globe-trotter Travel Guidebook: Bhutan [in Japanese])


4-2-1 iwasa_cover_彝文识字课本

The Yi Language and Its Texts
Kazue IWASA (Researcher, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Researcher of the Yi language)



The literacy education materials are characterized by being designed for “non-formal education (NFE)” outside of school. The purpose of NFE in this case is to teach people who had no opportunity to receive a “formal education (FE)” because of child labor or flaws in educational systems. Compared with those of FE, NFE materials are less likely to be archived (they are not necessarily preserved even in their regions of publication), making this collection very valuable.

The texts are in 28 languages: (in decreasing order of items) English, Bengali, Urdu, Chinese, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Thai, Nepali, Mongolian, Tagalog, Khmer, Burmese, Lao, Dzongkha, Malay, and other languages. They were published in 25 countries: (in decreasing order of items) Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Cambodia, Burma (Myanmar), and other countries.

The contents of the textbooks and booklets are closely related to the lifestyles and cultures in the regions: the influence of smoking on health, first-aid for electric shocks, disaster, the harm of drugs, sanitation, health and food for infants, agriculture and domestic animal husbandry, beekeeping, handcrafting, calculation, and other methods for income generation. There are also booklets dealing with social problems like human trafficking, environmental pollution, human rights, morals, gender, divorce, and gender equality. The collection also contains materials which focus on female problems like maternal and baby health, nutrition for women, violence against women, and the roles of women in society, reflecting the fact that the illiteracy rate of adult females is higher than that of males(*).

This collection is a valuable primary source for studies in education, linguistics, sociology, area studies, public health, and many other fields.

* In 2011, the global population of illiterate adults is 773.5 million, 63.8 % of which are female (Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics, September 2013).

September 19, 2014
Last updated: March 29, 2022