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S.A.R. la Grande-Duchesse ouvre le Forum mondial sur la Dyslexie
03-02-2010


Discours d'ouverture de Son Altesse Royale la Grande-Duchesse de Luxembourg lors du 1er Forum Mondial sur la Dyslexie au siège de l'UNESCO, à Paris, le 3 février 2010, sur le thème : Les meilleures pratiques dans l'enseignement de la lecture et de l'écriture pour tous. Comment les enseignants peuvent-ils aider les enfants ayant des difficultés d'apprentissage spécifiques dans la classe ?

Thank you Professor Stein.*

As a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, promoting a world of peace and cooperation, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation today, to take part in this Forum - to work together and to share your expertise in how best to put the UNESCO policies of Education for all, Inclusion and Quality into practice.

The question we are obliged to address is how is it possible to respond to these policies at a practical level – to meet the challenge expressed in article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Everyone has the right to an education
How, when over 300 million people with learning difficulties in reading, writing, memory and organization are still being left aside and marginalized. How are we to include these children and adults in a free and fair education process that will enable them
- to succeed in school in what they are good at,
- learn to read and write and
- integrate into society with a feeling of self-worth and purpose?

Clearly it is the teachers who are at the forefront of this challenge! It is teachers who are expected to provide this Quality education, this Inclusion even in a world that faces an acute shortage of teachers: More than 30 million teachers are still needed if the UNITED NATIONS Education for all goals are to be met by 2015.

It is thanks to all of you here today that we can address this need, that we can share our hopes and pool our abilities to bring about change – to support teachers everywhere in their challenging role, and to encourage education authorities to actively support their teachers through training and shared knowledge on latest research.

At a time when we all share so many common concerns:- the effects of global recession, job loss and the threats of climate change – this is the time to put aside our differences, to come together, to learn to understand one another's different views and to share our commitment to better teaching and learning opportunities. Where education is concerned, this is the time to move into models of interdependent, integrated systems and closer collaboration that new technology makes possible.

Dyslexia International's next project in which it invites the engagement of all committed educationalists is setting up a virtual university - an e-Campus/a Literacy for All Training Campus - where free quality resources will be offered for Ministers of education, education authorities, teachers and trainers world-wide.

OECD recently reported on the millions applying for places for further education who simply cannot be physically accommodated! Where college places cannot be found, where excessive travel harms our planet and where sufficient funding is not available because of financial recession, the advantages of the e-Campus - a free online university and online learning are clear. An e-Campus can offer an ecological and cost effective solution. It is the starting point from which teacher assistance, learning online, can be diffused, eventually through printed materials, films and by word of mouth.

I especially wish to welcome delegates with us today from Africa, the Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and Europe all those of you representing different countries. Our thanks go to the European Commission Directorate for Development and to the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries' Secretariat as well as to all our excellent sponsors for their essential help in creating scholarships and supporting the Forum.

By being the link with your ministries of education, each one of you here to day takes on an ambassadorial role – you are all ambassadors in spreading the word on how education systems can match up to policies, high standards, Quality and the principles of Inclusion we all support.

Tomorrow we look forward to reports on good teaching practice from the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish regions of the world and I wish to thank all six of the distinguished panel of experts for their care and research. We all learn from examples of good practice in teaching. This means seeing all children and adults, and especially those with specific learning needs, educated appropriately, with mutual respect and in ways in which they can learn, freely and fairly, without any fear of discrimination.

This brings me to the distinguished film directors and the President of the Mumbai Dyslexia Association sharing the platform today. We are honoured and delighted - thanks to the cooperation of the UNESCO New Delhi office - to have Amole Gupta and Deepa Bhatia, the creative directors of the film Stars on Earth and Kate Currawala, President of the Dyslexia Association of Mumbai with us today. Seven years of research went into the making of this film in which Aamir Khan not only directs but plays the part as ‘the good teacher'. I understand he too has sent a message of goodwill to this Forum.

The film you will see this evening has taken the world by storm. It is the best of Bollywood - a beautiful film that, through the story of one child leaves no one in doubt as to what dyslexia is and the devastating effects dyslexia has on family and society when it is not understood or properly addressed. Dyslexia International will make special acknowledgements of this outstanding film to the directors this evening.

I would like to make special mention of the Dyslexia Associations for their care and their selfless work to see dyslexia understood and addressed - many of whom have already signed up to Dyslexia International's World map on Screen in the Foyer. Without the drive and commitment of these associations supporting parents, teachers and learners with dyslexia across the world, we would not be here today. I extend a very warm and heartfelt welcome to all local associations present.

The Scientific Advisory Committee plays a truly invaluable role. Distinguished researchers generously offer their time to provide their guidance based on their extensive research and experience.

It was Professor Costas Porpodas of Patras who took the chair first followed by Professor Dirk Bakker of Amsterdam both of whom deserve highest recognition for their services.

Members of this Committee include some of the presenters at this Forum - Professor Wimmer of Salzburg, Professor Ludo Beheydt, Professor Jose Morais and Dr Lorusso. The most recent member of this Committee, Professor Linda Siegel, is to be thanked in particular for her assistance with the Forum and for working with our online team of consultants - each one of whom – each one - deserves well-deserved praise for their loyal involvement and academic and professional input.

Professor John Stein of Oxford is the current chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee. Thank you Professor for the active role you play – the active interest you take. Before you open the first part of this Forum - I wish to thank not only the UNESCO Conference Services for their efficient support, the interpreters and their organizer, but all the volunteers and sponsors at Dyslexia International concerned with setting up the Forum and the Exhibition. Thank you for your tireless effort.

I wish to make special mention of Dr Vincent Goetry./ His services as director of two free high-quality online learning sites / in English and French / in addition to the excellent training film you will see on Friday, deserve our highest praise. His contribution is outstanding.

Last but not least, our warmest thanks, go to Judith Sanson executive director of Dyslexia International, and her husband,/ for their exeptionnal commitment and tireless efforts / in organising this memorable meeting and thus making a difference in the lives of children with learning difficulties throughout the world.

As a mother, I would like to end by saying how gratefull I am to you all, for your exceptional committment and precious help!

I have met so many distressed parents, (including myself !), facing highly intelligent children who suffer deeply because they are aware of their incapacity to learn, in the same way as others do , and therefore feel terribly wortheless. And yet so many of these children develop an inner wisdom and knowledge, because of their struggles, that many children do not have.

Therefore, being conscious of the hope we are giving to all the children in need and their families may we carry from this Forum / renewed understanding,/ knowledge,/ new friendships and partners/ and renewed energy/ to see the world a better place for all children and adults/ all at risk of exclusion because they do not have a rightful education – free and fair – that meets their needs.

All of us in this room/ will have attended many conferences and discussed dyslexia from the sidelines on many occasions/. Now, let us work together within teacher training programmes,/ within education systems / to see changes in place that make Quality and Inclusion sustainable /– a positive and lasting/sustainable reality.

Thank you

* Prof. John Stein, University of Oxford, neurophysiology and dyslexia, is member of the scientific advisory committee of the Forum. He introduced HRH the Grand-Duchess