Sunday 21, August 2016

Sharjah – MENA Herald: Representatives from the Central Asia and North Africa (CANA) branches of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) have participated at the IBBY International Congress and General Assembly. Concluding yesterday (August 21) in Auckland, New Zealand, the delegates were able to attend the influential biennial literary event thanks to sponsorship supplied by the Sharjah IBBY Fund.

Launched by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and IBBY, the Sharjah IBBY Fund financed the cost of registration, travel and accommodation for the CANA region IBBY representatives to attend the IBBY International Congress, which was held in New Zealand’s largest city from August 18–21 under the theme ‘Literature in a Multi-Literate World’.

In addition to participating in the broad agenda of the IBBY International Congress and General Assembly, the CANA IBBY representatives were invited to a special meeting for IBBY representatives – The Open Forum – which took place on the third day of the event. They also attended a CANA Regional Meeting to exchange experiences and discuss the various challenges faced by IBBY members.

The Advisory Committee of the Sharjah IBBY Fund considers that its initiative is an important one, as it allows IBBY representatives from countries that don’t have the same resources as other members to attain parity with their international colleagues at IBBY’s influential conference. The attendance of the CANA representatives at the forum has ensured that they are up to speed on IBBY developments and fully appraised of the organisation’s direction over the coming years. It is hoped that they have been able to garner valuable information during the four days of the conference that will help them address the issues they are facing in their own region of operations.

Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Advisory Committee of the Sharjah/IBBY Fund for Children in Crisis, said: “Sharjah is a name that has been associated with education, science and knowledge for generations. Through a series of pilot programmes, the emirate has managed to enhance its cultural presence in many regions across the world. The Sharjah/IBBY Fund is yet another initiative that exemplifies the forward-thinking approach embraced by Sharjah and the UAE to promote knowledge, culture and literature among all children and young people.”

“We are extremely happy to have provided support to representatives of a number of local branches of IBBY in Central Asia and North Africa to attend the global conference in New Zealand. This stems from our belief in the importance of enabling all IBBY members to communicate with their peers and exchange experiences and views on how to develop literacy initiatives and projects in their respective countries in accordance with the highest international standards. This hope that this move will help contribute to bringing about the required positive change in the lives of children by consolidating reading habits among young people and providing them with the necessary sources of knowledge that can help them overcome difficulties and challenges,” Sheikha Bodour added.

The decision to sponsor the CANA region IBBY representatives to attend the IBBY International Congress was taken at a meeting held during the 53rd edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, which was held in Italy in April. During the meeting, The Sharjah IBBY Advisory Committee also discussed the progress achieved in its previous projects, which has seen funding given to literacy services for children in Afghanistan and Palestine.

The Sharjah IBBY Fund was launched in 2012 as a joint effort of UAEBBY and IBBY. The project sponsors initiatives that promote reading as a noble habit, gives children access to books with high literary and artistic standards and provides those involved with children and children’s literature with support and training. The fund has a special focus on providing books for children whose lives have been disrupted by war, civil disorder, natural disasters, poverty or disease in the CANA region.

UAEBBY is the national branch of IBBY, a non-profit organisation which represents a network of people from across the world who are committed to bringing books and children together. IBBY seeks to promote international understanding through children’s books; to give children everywhere the opportunity to have access to reading material with high literary and artistic standards; to provide support and training for those involved with children and children’s literature; to stimulate research and scholarly works in the field of children’s literature and to protect and uphold the right of the child to a general education that includes direct access to information.