The Minister of Education, Mr Lee Ocran, has reaffirmed the ministry’s commitment to ensure that the country’s illiteracy rate is reduced to single digits.

That, he said, would be done by ensuring that non-formal education programmes remained on the priority list of the ministry’s plans.

He said although much had been achieved in the adult literacy service provision in the country, more still needed to be done.

“With such a high adult illiteracy rate of 46.3 per cent, high rural rate of 59.9 per cent and a high female illiteracy rate of 57.5 per cent (2000 Population Census), the achievement of the target set will demand critical reflection and re-strategising,” he explained.

Mr Ocran made the remark in a speech read on his behalf during the launch of the International Literacy Day in Accra on the theme: “Cultivating Peace — the Role of Literacy.”

The day is celebrated every year as a constant reminder of the need to increase efforts towards curbing illiteracy.

According to Mr Ocran, an enlightened populace helps facilitate peace and development as many people tend to understand the tenets of peaceful co-existence and strive towards its achievement.

He said it also facilitated easy resolution of conflicts which was distinctive to individual survival, community empowerment and national development and added that the need to cultivate peace in the country was very urgent.

Additionally, the role of the Non-Formal Education Division (NFED) and other literacy providers in the creation of peace and sustainable development is very crucial to the country as peace is indispensible for socio-economic and political development.

Also, it is clear that poverty, disease, ignorance and squalor are all ramifications of illiteracy and essential ingredients of underdevelopment.

Mr Ocran added that one of the cardinal causes of conflicts in most African countries, especially south of the Sahara, was poverty.

He explained further that people with low level of literacy were easily swayed away from the truth and manipulated to take part in conflicts.

“It is, therefore, important for all Ghanaians, especially non-literates, to be equipped with knowledge through functional literacy, as this will make them more discerning and independent minded, thereby enhancing meaningful decisions that will lead to progress,” he said.

He, however, said the successful implementation of the National Functional Literacy Programme (NFLP) depended on the involvement of all relevant governmental and non-governmental organisations, since the tentacles of the programme were broad and covered all areas of society.

Mr Ocran, therefore, called on Ghanaians to support efforts to rid the country of illiteracy.

In his address, the acting Director of the NFED, Mr Charles Darlington Afare, advised that there was the need to have divergent approaches on how to educate non-literate adults, youth and children.

He said the ultimate was to work in harmony to achieve the set goal of ensuring a literate Ghana.

He added that non-formal education had moved beyond just providing adult literacy to empowering communities and individuals to contribute towards good citizenship, economic productivity, social stability and peaceful co-existence, among others.

“It has also provided skills, knowledge and attitudes that enable learners to comprehend the world around them and dialogue over potentially volatile issues to maintain peace within their communities,” he stated.

He also called for support for the non-literate community to make them understand the issues that would be discussed and also educate them on the harmful effects of conflicts and violence.

In a speech read on her behalf, the Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Ms Irina Bokova, called on stakeholders at all levels to strengthen partnerships that would accelerate quality literacy provision.

“It is essential that literacy programmes incorporate the values of peace, human rights and civic values, if literacy is to become a true means of empowerment,” she added.