As Ghana joins the world to mark World Literacy Day today, September 8, 2016, a non-government organisation (NGO), Engage Africa Now (ENA), has called on stakeholders to intensify efforts to improve education in the country.
Country Director for ENA, Cecilia Amankwah, says celebrating the day is important as it highlights efforts made to improve literacy rate figures in Ghana and other parts of the world and also take stock of challenges in order to map out strategies to surmount them.
“ENA believes education is the bedrock foundation upon which to build societies and break the cycle of poverty. That is why we are excited to celebrate the International Literacy Day,” she said.
This year’s commemoration marks the 50th anniversary of under the theme, 'Reading the past Writing the future'.
World Literacy Day was initiated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) at the world congress of the Ministers of Education on the Eradication of Illiteracy in the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1965. The Day was first celebrated in 1966.
International Literacy Day brings together governments, multi-and bilateral organizations, NGOs, private sectors, communities, teachers, learners, and experts in the field.
International Literacy Prizes will also be awarded today to people with outstanding solutions that can drive literacy towards achieving the 2030 Education Agenda. This year, the focus is on innovation.
This year is also the year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in this context, the vision of literacy is aligned with lifelong learning opportunities with special focus on youth and adults.
Literacy is a part of Sustainable Development Goal which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
The target is that by 2030 all youth and substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.
The proclamation of the Day is to seek the advancement of the notion of functional literacy. An adult literate age range from 15 years and above who can both read and write with understanding of a short simple statement about their everyday life.
According to UNESCO Global Report, 775 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in 5 adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women. 60.7 million Children are out, irregularly or drop out of school.
Over 75 percent of the world 775 million illiterate adults are found in South Asia, West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and women represent almost two-thirds of all illiterate adults globally.
The global literacy rate of all people age 15 and above currently stands at 86.3 percent. The global literacy rate for male is 90 percent, while that of female is also 82.7 percent
Various stakeholders have contributed to the rise in Ghana’s literacy rate of 71.5 percent. The male and female rate stands at 78.3 percent and 65.3 percent respectively, according to the Ghana Housing and Population Census, 2010.
However, UNESCO Institute of Statistics puts Ghana’s literacy rate in 2015 at 82 percent (UIS, 2015). Also, Ghana’s Adult literacy rate is 67.2 percent, while that of the youth is 80.8 percent.
Ghana’s Constitution – Article 25 (1) – calls for the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities. This constitutional provision also recommends for free and compulsory basic education. Additionally, the constitution acknowledges Functional Literacy to be encouraged or intensified.
Furthermore, Article 38 (1) also calls for free adult literacy programme and a free vocational training and lifelong education, a cause ENA has been champion for many years.
Engage Now Africa is operational in all 10 regions of Ghana, but currently runs its adult literacy programme in eight regions.
ENA learner population currently stands at 4,000, comprising of 2,244 females (56 percent) and 1,756 males (44 percent).
651 (17 percent) have already graduated with Engage Now Africa certificates and some of them are benefiting from our self-support assistance program.
Following careful planning, assessment and feasibility studies of the various Regions and marginalized communities ENA serves, the NGO employs effective frameworks consisting of ENA curriculum development and methodologies to meet the learning modalities of adult participants.
“Furthermore, we embark on the required logistics to ensure successful implementation of our literacy programs in the Regions and communities we operate,” said Cecilia Amankwah.
ENA's curriculum includes ENA Teacher's Guide, Students Manuals, Workbooks/Exercise books, and some reading materials.
“We also provide effective training for facilitators/instructors to address the literacy needs of the various communities. Our mode of implementation is unique and focuses on bridging the learning curve of participants in learner-centered environments. We encourage equal class participation and interaction. We emphasize the importance of training and utilization of effective facilitators who understand the special needs of adult participants,” she said.
She said Engage Now Africa is putting measures in place to extend its literacy program to the remaining two regions, Brong Ahafo and Upper West.
“It is a work in progress,” she said.
She urged stakeholders to redouble efforts to use literacy as a vehicle to promote sustainable development, encourage lifelong learning opportunities and empower individuals, communities and societies.