Sierra Leone PEN
Despite progress since the end of the civil war in 2002, over 70% of the population of Sierra Leone is still living in poverty and adult literacy is at 35/1%. Sierra Leone PEN focuses on the right to read and write through its school clubs project. There are 40 clubs based in schools across Sierra Leone, carrying out activities including debating programmes, writing competitions, and reading groups. The Sierra Leone Junior PENPoint Magazine magazine is a priority for Sierra Leone PEN, as it provides students with an opportunity to showcase their writing and disseminate news and essays. Sierra Leone PEN is also engaged with Centre exchange programmes, runs public events, and is a main contributor to the development of the PEN Africa Network.
Bolivian PEN undertook a project in 2009 to locate texts in Quechua and in Spanish to be used in a series of workshops in primary schools. The workshops use the texts as a basis for initiating a conversation about human rights and cultural diversity. The Centre, concerned with translation and accessibility of reading and writing, has identified a lack of teaching materials in primary education that address the country’s indigenous languages and culture. The project reached over 500 children in 2009 and as a result Bolivia PEN Centre published a book, Pedacitos, gathering a selection of texts and thoughts written by local children on the issues of human rights, gender equality and environment.
Central Asia PEN – Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
The Bishkek Centre includes members based in a range of countries, and has played a leading role in the formation of the Ural Altay Network, bringing together writers and freedom of expression activists from across Central Asia and beyond. The Centre hosted a network meeting in July 2010 entitled Epics of Ural-Altay: The Past for the Future, at which the ancient epics of the Ural Altay Network provided an historical and literary context in which to discuss freedom of expression and the role of the writer in society. Through PEN’s International Programmes the Central Asian Bishkek Centre has carried out the following projects in recent years:
– The hosting of a Human Rights Summer School as part of the Ural-Altay Network.
– Training human rights activists in order to advocate for the integration of human rights education in the school curriculum
– Extensive translation work in order to make literature in the Turkic languages more widely available, and thus to promote the free expression of the people in these regions.