International Literacy Day 2014

Are we doing enough? As this year’s International Literacy Day will be celebrated worldwide, Triple E Training is choosing to “zoom in” on the theme of International Literacy Day 2014 which is “Literacy and Sustainable Development”.  Because literacy is after all one of the key elements needed to promote sustainable development. It educates and empowers people so that they become decision-makers and problem-solvers in the areas of not only economic growth but social development also. Literacy is the foundation for lifelong-learning and its role in the establishment of sustainable and successful societies is crucial. International Literacy Day 2014 should remind all South Africans of the important of sustainable development. The former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, says:   Literacy unlocks the door to learning throughout life, is essential to development and health, and opens the way for democratic participation and active citizenship.”   Triple E Training agrees that if literacy skills are developed sufficiently in an individual they result in crucial competencies needed for critical thinking, a sound sense of accountability, participatory governance, ecological awareness, poverty reduction…………..the list is endless. So as we celebrate International Literacy Day 2014, let us not forget that the lack of literacy leads to disastrous outcomes in a society. Are we doing enough in South Africa? It is difficult to tell exactly how we are doing in South Africa because the statistics are not readily available from any one source. However, after informal discussions with various tertiary institutions, both public and private, it does not seem that we are indeed doing enough. School leavers are not adequately equipped with literacy. The drop out rate in first year of tertiary training is appallingly high. It appears that the basic education of many South Africans in terms of literacy (and numeracy) falls far short of acceptable levels. Literacy and numeracy forms the basis of research, reading and problem-solving needed at a tertiary level. There should be no more debate about the importance of literacy. It is agreed worldwide that without it, individuals can develop no further. There are literacy programmes on offer in South Africa by fully accredited training institutions for all levels and ages of individuals. There is no excuse as to why we are not doing enough. If want a sustainable South Africa, we need to focus on literacy. There is no better conclusion to this discussion showing that there is no doubt that we need to do more about literacy, than these words of Kofi Annan: “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.” Paula Whitaker Triple E Training Holdings (Pty) Ltd 8th September 2014