On Friday 18th November 2016, we are convening an all-day interactive seminar in central London, UK, in conjunction with the UCL Institute of Education, BAICE and UNESCO’s Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL). Dr Ulrike Hanemann of UIL is our keynote speaker, and our aim is to provide a forum for multi-sectoral dialogue exploring the role of literacy in enhancing lifelong learning.

Please do share the downloadable outline programme and the above poster with friends and colleagues. Everyone is welcome. The standard booking fee is £80, with a reduced fee of £60 for members of BALID or the Institute of Education, and £30 if you are unwaged. BAICE is kindly offering students the opportunity to apply for financial help with travel and attendance expenses – please see the programme for further details. We recommend that you download the booking form and book early to avoid disappointment.

Dr Hanemann has recently published an article entitled ‘Lifelong Literacy: some trends and issues in conceptualising and operationalising literacy from a lifelong learning perspective’ in the International Review of Education.  Here is the abstract from her article.

In a fast-changing and highly inequitable world, lifelong learning is becoming increasingly important, not only as a key organising principle for all forms of education and learning but also as an absolute necessity for everyone. It is particularly important for disadvantaged individuals and groups who have been excluded from or failed to acquire basic competencies through formal schooling. Within a lifelong learning framework, literacy and numeracy are viewed as foundation skills which are the core of basic education and indispensable to full participation in society. This article discusses recent developments in conceptualising literacy as a foundation of lifelong learning. Starting from the evolving notions of adult literacy, the author identifies some current trends, the most important being that literacy is now perceived as a learning continuum of different proficiency levels. Dichotomous states of being either “literate” or “illiterate” no longer apply. She analyses (1) findings extracted from UNESCO Member States’ national reports submitted to the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) for the 2nd Global Report on Adult Learning and Education; (2) a desk study of national literacy campaigns and programmes as well as (3) some recent developments in formal education. Her suggested three-dimensional analytical framework considers literacy as a lifelong and life-wide learning process and as part of lifelong learning systems. She draws a number of conclusions for policy and practice of literacy as a foundation of lifelong learning. These conclusions are a timely contribution to the ongoing post-2015 education debate, in particular to the challenge of how to mainstream youth and adult literacy into the implementation of the sustainable development agenda for 2015–2030.


The above is the title of BALID’s latest book, which is a compilation of articles based on the presentations given by literacy experts at our series of Informal Literacy Discussions in London, UK, from 2011-2015. Edited by Dr Juliet McCaffery and Professor Brian Street, the book offers helpful and varied insights into issues of literacy, focusing mainly on the social practice view of literacy for families and adults. It costs £15 (plus £2.25 for UK packaging and postage) and can be ordered from Dr Ian Cheffy at ian_cheffy@sil.org 

Hard copies of the book will be available at our ‘Weaving Literacy’ seminar on 18th November 2016, and a downloadable PDF version will soon be available on this website. 


BALID is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) promoting adult and family literacy and numeracy as a basic human right, in the context of development. As a UK charity, BALID brings together organisations and individuals who believe that sharing experience about learning and literacy can help enrich workers and citizens in both the industrial and the developing world. This is because, as our header photo (of a literacy parade in Vanuatu) declares, ‘Literacy imparts longevity!’ – and much else besides.

Find us on Facebook

For up-to-date information about our activities, please visit our Facebook page. On this website you will also find more detailed information about our latest book, our Informal Literacy Discussions, and about News, courses and events

Our aims are to:

  • promote literacy and numeracy for adults and families as an integral part of human development;
  • increase awareness of the relationship between literacy, numeracy, economic development and social change, in partnership with other appropriate organisations;
  • inform and advise governments, NGOs and the private sector on adult literacy and numeracy within the context of development;
  • contribute to programmes for adult literacy and numeracy;
  • facilitate interactions and exchanges between those working in adult literacy and numeracy programmes;
  • exchange experiences and research findings in order to inform future practice.

Whilst we welcome all comers to our meetings, we do encourage membership, so that we can keep in contact, inform you of upcoming meetings, and enjoy sharing experience and expertise. The benefits of membership also include reduced rates for attendance at our Informal Literacy Discussions.

BALID is managed by an Executive Committee, which includes individual members from different sectors who wish to promote literacy, as well as academics and practitioners working and researching the field in many different parts of the world. Please click on the names to learn more about the current committee members.

BALID Executive Committee

President:   Professor Brian Street

Chair:   Dr Katy Newell-Jones

Secretary:   Dr Juliet McCaffery

Treasurer:   Dr Ian Cheffy

Executive member:   Dr Mary Anderson

Executive member: Tara Furlong

Our annual report 2014-15 outlines much of our recent activity. The BALID committee and our members maintain both formal and informal connections to a range of organisations, and these relationships are in constant development. Links to news, reports and events in the field of literacy can also be found on our Facebook page

In past years, BALID has organised several conferences both in the UK and abroad.