Onus on all to help eliminate illiteracy – NLU Head
The performance of students at the National Assessments and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate Examination is testimony to the fact that Guyana, like other parts of the world, has problems with its level of literacy.
This state of affairs was highlighted yesterday by Head of the Ministry of Education’s National Learning Unit (NLU), Ms Samantha Williams.
“It is not enough for us to acknowledge that these problems exist, but the onus is on each of us to eliminate illiteracy, which is part of our stated mission as a Ministry of Education.”
Williams’ comments were forthcoming as she delivered opening remarks at the Ministry’s annual Literacy Showcase, at its Sports Complex, Carifesta Avenue, Georgetown.
In highlighting that the state of illiteracy is still a growing phenomenon globally, Williams disclosed that information from the World Statistics Institute has been very revealing, with over 900 million persons worldwide, aged 15 years and older, still lack basic reading and writing skills. This, she explained, accounts for some 27 per cent of the global population. Even more disheartening, Williams noted, is the fact that illiteracy ascends at a rate of some 32 per cent annually.
“The major effects of illiteracy include the fact that it acts as an inhibitor to the development of any nation; it is the main source for the ‘believe what you are told syndrome’ where people have no sense of enquiry and they never investigate anything that that they are told; it is generic: children of illiterate parents are more likely to be illiterate than those who aren’t.”
Against this background, Williams said that the National Literacy Unit believes that a literate citizenry is able to make wise decisions, live in mutual respect, exercise tolerance and development, as well as help to modernize a nation. This, she noted, could by extension contribute to a legacy of richness, wealth and security for future generations. “This notion motivates and drives our will towards making sure that Guyanese, both school-age and adult, are offered an opportunity to develop literacy skills,” Williams added.
Referring to yesterday’s Literacy Showcase as an ideal means to help sensitize the public, the NLU Head disclosed that there are programmes and services that are available to help any child or adult develop skills.
Reflecting on the theme for Education Month ‘Transforming the nation through inclusive education’, Williams said “this is highly significant to us, because the message of inclusivity is one that we have often preached and is largely based on making sure that children are taught in ways that suits their needs.”
She explained, too, that inclusive education is not where parents choose to enroll their children, but rather, is a reflection of how schools educate and make children functionally-literate individuals, including those of diverse needs.
“Inclusive education is also indicative of how communities and other organizations work together to address the needs of the adult population who the education system has failed to equip with the relevant skills,” Williams said.