NEWS COMMENTARY ON INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY, 2018.
Ghana on the 8th of September, 2018 joined the international community to commemorate the International Literacy Day. This year’s event celebrated the 52nd anniversary of the World Congress of Ministers’ of Education on the Eradication of illiteracy, which made the Tehran recommendation on the International Literacy Day and advanced the notion of functional literacy.
The celebration is an annual event, which is used 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. The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Literacy and Skills Development”.
The call is for literacy to blend with skills development. This involves instiling skills and competencies required for employment, careers, and livelihoods, particularly technical and vocational skills, along with transferable skills and digital skills in the youth. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO Strategy for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, TVET, which began in 2016 and will be ending in 2021, seeks to prioritize TVET as a medium for employment.
This strategy is hinged on three priority areas. These are fostering youth employment and entrepreneurship; promoting equity and gender equality and facilitating the transition to green economies and sustainable societies. UNESCO accordingly predicts that, in the next decade 475 million jobs need to be created for unemployed youth of 73 million with an annual entrant of 40 million. This is an indication that literacy alone cannot serve as empowerment without skills, which assures employment.
Unfortunately, TVET has not received the needed attention in Ghana. Many who forgo grammar education for TVET are considered the financially and academically challenged individuals meant to be under achievers. Consequently, this has negatively affected the interest and desire of potential country men and women who could have made a living through TVET. To this end, efforts must be made to positively influence the perception surrounding TVET by building new centers and retooling the old ones across the country to attract the youth. TVET holds the capacity to strengthen the One District, One Factory initiative for industrialisation of the country and reduce unemployment.
Prioritizing technical and vocational education will help prevent what is termed as youth Not in Education, Employment and Training. According to United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Institute of Statistics, Ghana’s literacy rate is 76.6 percent. Male and female literacy rate stands at 82.0 and 71.4 percent respectively, with gender difference of 10.6 percent. This disparity in male and female literacy needs to be bridged to enhance equal opportunities for all.
The Free Senior High School has the potential to rectify this gender disparity. Therefore, the hefty investment into education through the Free Senior High School is laudable. It is a clear indication of the Government’s commitment to ensure that every child of school going age, especially secondary education has the right to be educated. This gives true meaning to the statement, “Education is a right not a privilege”.
The Government in collaboration with donor agencies are working hard to educate out-of-school children under the Complementary Basic Education intervention. This will go a long way to reduce the number of young people who if ignored today will become future candidate for adult education. Government is therefore, duty-bound to continue to invest in the Complementary Basic Education as donor funding through the Crown Agents come to an end this year. The educated is not only liberated socially, economically, and psychologically, but also obtains the moral force of conviction and the power to be innovative. The commemoration is not a period to beam negative light on challenges facing education at all levels.
There are many successes in the education sector that we deserve to celebrate and we have to acknowledge these spots of achievements. As we celebrate this year’s International Literacy Day, lets us change our perception about Technical and Vocational Education and Training. Investment must be directed towards youth education and training. The Government must also make allocation for technical and vocational education in the construction of the Community Senior High Schools.
We say Ayekoo to all Literacy providers for their tireless efforts at promoting quality education in the country.
BY PATRICK TWUMASI, HEAD OF PUBLIC RELATION, NON FORMAL EDUCATION DIVISION OF GHANA EDUCATION SERVICE.