The Pan African conferences are important literacy events on the African continent, providing platforms for literacy professionals and researchers to interface with policy makers in government and the donor community. In the eight countries (South Africa (1999); Nigeria (2001); Uganda (2003); Swaziland (2005); Ghana (2007); Tanzania (2009) Botswana (2011) and Kenya (2013) where the conference has been held, positive developments have been noted. These include growth and development of community libraries, adult literacy classes, children’s reading tents, emergence of reading and writing clubs in schools and communities and positive policy pronouncements in favour of the book sector and publishing industry.

The first conference (held in Pretoria in 1999) focused on reading among children. The second one (held in Abuja in 2001) considered the role of communities in building a reading culture. The third one (held in Kampala in 2003) was on analyzing and surmounting factors impeding the transmission and use of literacy skills. The fourth one (held in Swaziland in 2005) was on exploring the connection between literacy and sustainable development. The fifth conference (held in Accra in 2007) was on literacy for human liberation. The sixth one (held in Dar es Salaam in 2009) focused on literacy for community based socio-economic transformation and development. The seventh conference (held in Gaborone in 2011) was on a reader becoming an empowered leader. The eighth conference (held in Nairobi in 2013) was on literacy for all: leading the way to literacy excellence. The design of the 2015 conference and the choice of theme have been inspired by the interests of people working in the field of literacy in South Africa.

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