‘No society loses if citizens are educated’

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo (centre) is flanked by UNICEF’s Resident Representative, Sylvie Fouet (his left), RCC Chairperson, Aleema Nasir and students at the Grand Coastal Hotel (Delano Williams photo)

– says prime minister, acknowledges improved local academic performance

THE value of society is multiplied when persons are educated, said Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, as he spoke extensively about the importance of literacy during the celebration of World Literacy Day 2018.

Education is believed to be the key to success, but in order to get educated persons must be literate. In an effort to ensure that persons are aware of literacy, the aim of World Literacy Day was structured to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.

“It makes you better, it makes you brighter, it makes you more valuable…books and literacy will guide you through life…books are the source of light, the fountain of light showing you the direction you should take,” said Nagamootoo during his remarks at the Rights of the Child Commission (RCC)’ World Literacy Day workshop at the Grand Coastal Hotel on Saturday.

He referred to a study which was conducted in Europe, where researchers found that one in every 15-year-olds is not literate. Added to that, studies found that over 700 million people, worldwide, are not literate.

A section of attendees at the workshop on Saturday (Delano Williams photo)

In light of those figures, Nagamootoo said the only way to make people literate is to encourage reading from an early age.

“I want to encourage parents to talk to their children to help to build their vocabulary, grammar and their communication skills from an early age,” he said, adding that the resources are available at libraries and now even in their homes, because of the technological advancement over the years.

Despite the need to inculcate literacy, the prime minister acknowledged the improvement in local academic performance, noting that young people are doing better in their studies. His observation was based on performance at the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) examinations and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.
The performances however did not shift the thoughts of Chairperson of the RCC, Aleema Nasir, who believes that at the primary and secondary levels, children must nurture and love the inclination to read.

“We realised that critical to any education will be the imperative of literacy… the ability to read, comprehend, compute, analyse, evaluate and communicate…it must be nurtured from the earliest age,” said Nasir.

The RCC chairperson said the commission will continue to emphasise the importance of literacy, which is vital to the education and empowerment of children.

As part of its commitment, the RCC included high school students in the workshop, which included an interactive examination of all aspects of literacy.

The United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) Resident Representative, Sylvie Fouet, lauded the RCC’s effort, noting that it is important to improving the quality of education and empowering young people.

She believes that efforts should also be directed at reducing the number of school dropouts. Although 75 per cent of the population have access to secondary education, she said that the others who do not attend or drop out of school need to be sensitised too.
“We need to look at reintegrating maybe teen mothers or children in contact with the law, into the school system or vocational system…Literacy prevents young people from coming into contact with the law,” she said.

The United Nations (UN) as part of its plans will be initiating a Young People’s Agenda on September 24, 2018.

The agenda will seek to find ways of ensuring that young people stay in school, are trained and are employable by 2030.