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Int'l Literacy Day explores connections between literacy, skills development

Sunday, September 09, 2018

International Literacy Day 2018 was observed yesterday, Saturday, September 8, with a conference in Paris discussing literacy and skills development. The objective, as convening agency United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) explained it, was to explore ways to make effective connections between literacy, technical and vocational skills in policies, practice, systems and governance.

Locally, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information encouraged schools to engage students in creative activities on Friday, to highlight the importance of literacy in skills development.

Some of the suggested activities were the mounting of a 'word wall' to include jargons and pictures from vocational areas; designing posters depicting the theme; and students reading aloud or having invited guests at schools participate in reading sessions.

For his part, the minister Ruel Reid said this year's theme highlights the need for trainable citizens in our nation, and the world by extension.

“Over the years, our society has evolved into one that depends heavily on highly skilled citizens. A literate and trainable population has the competence required for employment in fields that are driven by technical skills and knowledge.

“Subsequently, we should not forget that literacy is more than reading and writing; literacy is the power to see the world from different perspectives, to be able to use information well, and understanding the flow of social and personal life within the context of emerging societies. It has been proven that when citizens of a country are literate, it places the country in a better position to meet complex social issues,” Reid said.

The minister added that literate citizens respond in creative ways to the challenges in their environment and employ their knowledge and skills to build their communities.

Without the benefits of literacy, he argued, human beings would be miserable, hostile creatures.

“Through literacy, our children will be able to realise their full potential,” said Reid.

International Literacy Day was initiated by UNESCO in 1967 as a means of promoting the significance of literacy for international development and advancement. It was also intended to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society.

“There is empirical evidence,” Reid further argued, “That there is a positive correlation between strong literacy skills and the overall health and standard of living of citizens of a country. A highly literate nation is filled with people who are strategic, empathetic, critical and tolerant.

“As we celebrate International Literacy Day 2018, I implore us all to continue to seek opportunities to promote and commit to the advancement of literacy at the level of the individual, family, community, nation, and world. We continue to highlight the value of education and the ability to read, write, listen, view, think and speak; we highlight the ability to communicate, collaborate, be creative and think critically. These are the qualities that citizens need to embody in order to ensure the economic and social development of our country,” he said.

Also marking the international observance, minister of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pearnel Charles Jr, in his capacity as chairman of the UNESCO Youth Advisory Committee, participated in a read-in at Institute of Jamaica in downtown Kingston.

The event, under the theme 'Education Transforms Lives', also featured Sports, culture, gender, and Entertainment minister Olivia Grange, Professor Mervyn Morris, Dr Opal Palmer Adisa, Dr Amina Blackwood-Meeks, Britney Gabbidon, Lauren Delapenha, and UNESCO Youth Ambassador Sujae Boswell.