Minister of Education Shaik Baksh has urged education stakeholders to reaffirm their commitment to eliminating illiteracy, in his address to mark International Literacy Day 2011.
This year’s observances are being held under the theme ‘Literacy and Peace’. In a press release Baksh said literacy unlocks the door to lifelong learning, a vital means of forging understanding, peace, tolerance and respect among people of diverse backgrounds. “Peace and literacy are interdependent and indivisible, and each required the other for national development to thrive. These are the vanguards for the propagation of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to bring about behavioural changes that will enable our children, youth and adults to realise their full potential,” he explained.
Baksh noted that in Guyana, literacy is the foundation of the ministry’s current Strategic Plan and its overarching importance is amply reflected in its mission to “eliminate illiteracy, modernise education and strengthen tolerance.” In the school system, thousands of teachers have been trained and continue to be trained to effectively deliver the literacy instructional programme. He noted too that the National Literacy Unit has been maintaining constant, focused programmes to raise literacy standards at all levels of the education system and the work force.
According to the release strong emphasis is also being placed on literacy and numeracy at all Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutions and, to date, these programmes have recorded encouraging results. In addition, the prison service has been working with the unit to boost literacy among inmates and corporate private sector agencies have been training their workers.
More recently, the ministry has initiated a National Remediation Programme hosted over the July/August holidays for primary and secondary level students. Some 20,000 pupils have benefited from classes designed to correct their weaknesses in literacy and numeracy. “Our competency-based approach to education is supported by critical assessments at Grades Two and Four at the primary level. The Grade Four Literacy Certificate Assess-ment, a diagnostic approach to measure literacy attainment and address weaknesses at the primary level also came on stream this year,” Baksh said. He added that this intervention “will no doubt put teachers under pressure to perform” and as such he called on teachers to dedicate at least one extra hour per day after school to work with slow learners.