As part of lifelong learning, literacy skills don’t just mean better job opportunities now. They also set people up with the ability to develop their skills and find better livelihoods in the future.
International Literacy Day, would be celebrated next week Tuesday thus September 8, 2020. Like other countries across the globe, Ghana would equally be observing the day with the global theme 'Literacy teaching and learning in COVID-19 crisis and beyond'
As the theme suggests, this year is providing us with the opportunity to express views on "Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond" especially on the role of educators and changing pedagogies.
The theme highlights literacy learning in a lifelong learning perspective, and therefore, mainly focuses on youth and adults. The recent Covid-19 crisis has been a stark reminder of the existing gap between policy discourse and reality: a gap that already existed in the pre-COVID-19 era and negatively affects the learning of youth and adults, who have no or low literacy skills, and therefore, tend to face multiple disadvantages. During COVID-19, in many countries, adult literacy programmes were absent in the initial education response plans, so most adult literacy programmes that did exist were suspended, with just a few courses continuing virtually, through TV,radio, online or in open air spaces. What is the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on youth and adult literacy educators and teaching and learning? What are the lessons learnt? How can we effectively position youth and adult literacy learning in global and national responses and in strategies for the recovery and resilience-building phase?
By exploring these questions, International Literacy Day 2020 provides an opportunity to reflect on and discuss how innovative and effective pedagogies and teaching methodologies can be used in youth and adult literacy programmes to face the pandemic and beyond.
The Day will also give an opportunity to analyse the role of educators, as well as formulate effective policies, systems, governance and measures that can support educators and learning.
International Literacy Day is celebrated to create awareness among people about the need and importance of literacy and education for every human being. On this day events and programmes are planned and organised to motivate and inspire people to achieve literacy and in order to eradicate illiteracy and ignorance from the world.
As a matter of fact, a blind person cannot see anything of the world. He or she cannot enjoy the beauty of nature and the strangely beautiful world. He or she has no eyesight. He or she cannot enjoy light and remains in darkness. He or she leads a very helpless and dependent life.
In the same vein, an illiterate person cannot read or write. He or she is to some extent like a blind person. He or she cannot enter the world of knowledge without the help of others. Though, he or she can see books, magazines, newspapers, posters, he or she cannot understand the writings therein. For want of literacy, he or she also depends on others as a blind person does. Illiteracy is a curse on him or her.
To remove this evil curse of global illiteracy and to promote literacy rate all over the world, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) proclaimed the 8th September as the International Literacy Day.
The proclamation was made at the 14th session of UNESCO’s General Conference on 26 October, 1966. Thereafter, the day has been celebrated around the world since 1967.
The issue of literacy is a key component of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The UN's Sustainable Development Agenda, adopted by world leaders in September 2015, promotes universal access to quality education and learning opportunities throughout people’s lives. Sustainable Development Goal 4 has as one of its targets ensuring all young people achieve literacy and numeracy and that adults, who lack these skills are given the opportunity to acquire them.
Currently, about 83 per cent people around the world are literate and about 17 percent persons are still illiterate, and fumble in darkness.
This large and vast number of people is deprived of literacy or minimum education. But education is the fundamental rights of every man, woman, and child. The fact remains that, we express our thoughts, ideas, sense of right and wrong, justice and injustice by means of education.
Education gives us knowledge and knowledge is our power, and this power comes from education.
Education is very essential for our life and livelihood. Without education we are like blind people. So, everyone must have the right of having education.
Education in Ghana is a fundamental right of men, women and children. This right is enshrined in our Constitution.
Though it is a constitutional right. Ghana, has not yet achieved hundred percent literacy rate.
It means therefore, as a country more effective drive is needed in order to eliminate and eradicate illiteracy from Ghana in the near future.
Around 1901 the standard of literacy was set in the Census Document. According to the document literacy at that time meant the ability of a person to write and know only the letters needed to write his or her own name. Towards 1940, the definition of literacy was changed. Here literacy meant ability of a person to learn the skill needed for mere reading and writing. In 1960, the definition of literacy was a bit modified and expanded. This time literacy meant a person’s ability and skill in calculation in addition to the ability for mere reading and writing. In 1980, again the definition of literacy was further expanded. This time awareness and ability of a person to read the visible writings were added to the definition of literacy.
Currently, literacy embraces communication, empowerment, and means of livelihood, protection and organising power including all other previous criteria of the definition of literacy.
If we can bring down the illiteracy rate to the zero point, we shall be able to raise our heads with pride in the world. We can feel proud as nationals of Ghana.
Primary schools can play very important role in saving the nation from the curse of illiteracy with the help of parents. Many parents are equally not helping their children at home as far as issues of literacy are concerned.
Government is very much aware of the inability of basic school pupils to read and write yet no special budget allocation specifically for literacy promotion. It is sad to that since independence majority of our basic schools across the country are without libraries and adequate reading materials.
Like a tree, poverty has many roots. But among the many causes of global poverty, one factor stands out: education. Not every person without education is living in extreme poverty, but most of the extremely poor do lack a basic education. Those living below the poverty line will also be more likely to keep their children out of school, which means that their children will also have a greater chance of living in poverty. Literacy is the secret ingredient to eradicating poverty in Ghana. So, for us to eradicate poverty, let us promote literacy.
In a nutshell, I must draw a conclusion with the urge to all concerned to realize that illiteracy is a serious impediment to our development as a nation.
We have to overcome this impediment in order to reap the success of development. And with the progress of literacy rate, we have to develop and improve our moral character, moral values, and build a peaceful society. otherwise, the enhancement of literacy rate will be valueless. And in doing so, concerted efforts, cooperation, dedication, honesty and sincerity will essentially be needed.
As Literacy Ambassadors Ghana, we are committed to the fight against eradicating illiteracy and we are doing so by inspiring a life of reading among school pupils.
As we mark the day on next week Tuesday, we expect every Ghanaian to do something special as far as reading, writing and comprehension are concerned.