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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thousands get big on reading this weekend

Thousands get big on reading this weekend

More than 700 people are expected to descend on the National Institute of Education next Saturday to take part in a global youth and adult literacy initiative.

Thousands more are expected to attend affiliated events throughout the country.

The Big Read event is the focal point of the Big Read Global Action Week organised by the Global Campaign for Education, which culminates Sunday.

Key stakeholders including education NGOs, donors, parents, teachers, children and senior ministry officials will attend the three-hour event, which will feature performances by musicians and comedians. It will also house a "mini bookshop" where disadvantaged children will receive reading materials for free.

Last year's event held at Olympic Stadium drew 600 people.

According to the Global Campaign for education, there are 774 million illiterate adults worldwide, 75 million children out of primary school and 226 million children not in secondary school.  

Nono Louise Harhoff, an adviser at NGO Education Partnerships (NEP) who is organising Big Read in Cambodia, said youth and adult literacy had been neglected in the country.

"It's not as trendy or cute as sending little children to school, but we feel that in the Cambodian context this is very important because they are missing out on the development and modernisation that is happening in Cambodia," she said. "So this is our kickoff event for the year and we will be monitoring the levels all through the year and focusing on following up after Saturday's event."

A 2007 UNESCO study found approximately 26 percent of Cambodian adults over the age of 15 were illiterate. Women are particularly vulnerable and will be targeted throughout NEP's year-long adult literacy campaign.

The public are welcome to attend the Big Read, which starts at 3pm.

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