Ghana will on September 8, join the world to mark this year’s International Literacy Day, which is aimed at promoting literacy across countries.
The day was proclaimed by the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on November 17, 1965. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally.
In line with the celebration, the All Africa Students Unions (AASU), in a statement ahead of the day, called for a redoubling of efforts to enhance the literacy rate in Africa.
“In Africa whatever efforts we have undertaken before and now to break the shackle of underdevelopment must be doubled with genuine commitments, selflessness and hard work.
“Literacy being an essential tool to enhance any developmental agenda for the African continent, must be given all the necessary attention in order to put us on a road to sustainable development,” said the statement signed by Awaah Fred, Secretary General of AASU.
Africa’s current education predicaments, it noted, were linked to many factors.
“Firstly the education systems inherited from the colonial powers, that were designed for the formal sector and public administration making them exclusively in their interests, have not been fundamentally reformed and adapted to our own needs and interests till today; Secondly education participation rates are low in many African countries and schools often lack many basic facilities and thirdly African universities, not being in line with increasing students’ intake, suffer from overcrowding and many staff being enticed by high pay and better conditions offered by Western countries migrate to those countries.
“African unity being the ultimate resort to effectively and efficiently overcome all the predicaments confronting the continent including illiteracy must, genuinely, be a priority that supersedes all other considerations.
“African leaders must put an end to the lip service they have so far accorded to all this important matter and education in general. African leaders must curtail the syndrome of dishonesty for personal gains and consider the interests of their people before anything else,” it said.
It is estimated that 775 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-third of them are women; 60.7 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.
Although South and West Asia has the lowest regional adult literacy rate (58.7 per cent) in the world, countries with the lowest literacy rates are in Africa, according to UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report on Education (2006). These countries are all in West Africa and include Burkina Faso (12.8 per cent), Niger (14.4 per cent) and Mali (19 per cent).