Importance of academic success amplified at ‘Literacy Showcase’
The notion that literacy is the key to academic success in its entirety was passionately underscored yesterday by Chief Education Officer (CEO) Olato Sam, who was at the time presenting the feature address at the annual Literacy Showcase at the Ministry of Education Sport Complex (formerly GNS Sports Complex), Carifesta Avenue, Georgetown.
“If you are not literate you cannot master the other dimensions of the educational process and that is something that we must reinforce constantly,” Sam asserted.
He emphasised, too, that parents must come to the realisation that their children’s academic success hinges greatly on their ability to grasp fundamental principles embedded in the Ministry’s national literacy drive. This strategic move, he said, also speaks to the quality of the society that is desired, since the primary role of literacy is to shape and define the quality of life for everyone.
“The nation that we aspire to have would depend greatly on the extent to which the citizens have mastered basic competency skills,” the CEO stated.
Literacy, according to him, is known to lead to higher levels of tolerance and acceptance of different people, as well as acceptance of differences altogether, even as he highlighted that “if we are to co-exist in this society we must develop the competencies that will enable us to appreciate each other for who we are.”
Moreover, he stressed that literacy is not limited to just a classroom, but reaches to the national state of affairs. As such, he noted that it is required of all to embrace the role that must be played in improving the quality of literacy locally, which he stressed, is a key message in this year’s Education Month theme, “Transforming the nation through inclusive education”.
“Inclusive education calls upon each of us to recognise the role we must play in shaping and defining this society… in helping young people who we recognise might have some of those deficiencies,” Sam articulated.
Deputy Chief Education Officer (Development) Mrs. Bibi Alli, in echoing the sentiments of the CEO added that “Literacy is life itself. I consider anybody who does not have literacy skills to be handicapped.” She alluded to the fact that there are many in society today who are unable to read, write and comprehend, thus are at a disadvantage, and could find themselves in very vulnerable situations.
Yesterday’s event came days after the commemoration of International Literacy Day which is observed on September 8, annually. With the theme “Literacy and Peace,” the International Literacy Day for two consecutive years (2011 and 2012) spoke to the negative impact of unrest on literacy. However, Mrs. Alli asserted that it is the role of the local education system to ensure that there is a peaceful society, which allows for a literate population.
As such, she noted that it is very important that efforts are made to educate the citizenry to ensure that they can read, write, understand, and do simple computations.
In this regard, she said that the Ministry of Education “is doing everything in its power to ensure that all of our students become literate.”
Aside from regular school programmes, she made reference to after-school programmes such as the Fast Track Literacy Initiative which targets out-of-school youths and students who are falling behind in school.
“We are not just leaving things to chance and we are not just ignoring those who have passed school age and have not acquired literacy. We are still targeting them.”
According to Deputy CEO, the Ministry has decided to have the Literacy Showcase to amplify some of the things that could be done to help the country’s people become literate. She also underscored that parents have a very critical role to play in ensuring that their children become literate, adding that research has shown that parents who are illiterate often raise children who are illiterate as well.
“The cycle can go on, but we have to end it. The Ministry of Education has pledged to end this cycle and that is why in Education Month we focus a lot on literacy. We are not only having this showcase today, but we will have spelling bee and essay competitions, debates and all the things that deal with literacy.”
The Literacy Showcase was supported by a number of organisations including the Guyana Oil Company, Sterling Products, the National Library and the Guyana Book Foundation. It served to showcase the various methods of learning, including those utilised to deliver Special Needs Education, as was highlighted by the Ministry’s Special Needs Education Unit and the Guyana Deaf Ministry.
The event yesterday was not without cultural activities which came in the form of dances and an admirable poetic rendition from visually impaired Mekyla Belgrave of St Agnes Primary School.