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A five-day international conference to discuss how to improve literacy rates in Asia kicked off Tuesday in Tokyo with representatives from 19 countries.

The meeting, sponsored by the Asia/Pacific Cultural Center for UNESCO and the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Program of Education for All, will focus on raising literacy rates among Asian adults. One in four adults in Asia cannot read or write, according to the groups.

One topic will be the role of information technology in helping raise literacy at a time when rapid IT progress has further widened the gap between rich and poor.

Muneharu Kusaba, director general of Asia/Pacific Cultural Center for UNESCO, told participants they should develop ways to provide people who have had no education opportunities with the opportunity to learn how to write and read.

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