The Hon. Arnaldo Brown, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, addresses the gathering in the lobby of the ministry during the International Literacy Day event.-Photos courtesy of Emma Lewis.
Jamaica’s State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Hon. Arnaldo Brown addressed a gathering at the ministry on International Literacy Day, Monday, September 8. An excerpt of his speech appears below:
“I am pleased to address this gathering on this very important occasion, the celebration of International Literacy Day 2014. It was in 1965, 49 years ago, that, September 8th was declared by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as International Literacy Day.
Professor Edward Baugh delighted with his wry sense of humor as he read poems from his published collection, “Black Sand.”
” The day was first celebrated in 1996, with the aim of highlighting the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. Today, the world at large uses the opportunity to recognize the issue of literacy in human development and to give impetus to the drive to achieve the six (6) United Nations Education for All goals, which are:
• 1: Expand early childhood care and education
• 2: Provide free and compulsory primary education for all
• 3: Promote learning and life skills for young people and adults
• 4: Increase adult literacy
• 5: Achieve gender parity
• 6: Improve the quality of education
Jean Gouldbourne, 2010 JCDC Adult Short Story Gold Awardee and Iowa International Fellow, reads from her work, while Ann-Margaret Lim, poet and Head of the Public Relations and Media Unit at the Ministry, holds the microphone.
“Studies have shown that there is a direct and positive correlation between the lives of mothers and their children: if the mother is literate, then there’s a higher likelihood that the child will be too. This increase in literacy is positively correlated to increases in individual, national and global sustainable development. In light of this, the UNESCO has chosen to celebrate International Literacy Day under the theme of Literacy and Sustainable Development. It is envisioned that increased emphasis will be put on the importance of girls’ and women’s literacy and education for sustainable development, contributing to the new international development goals that will come into effect in 2015.
Poet Laureate and Professor Emeritus Mervyn Morris reads from his latest book, “Miss Lou: Louise Bennett and Jamaica Culture.” He also read audience favorites such as “The Pond.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, literacy is a basic human right and an absolute condition for reaching all of the internationally agreed development goals. However, the recent reports are sobering. Today, the world over, there are a reported 781 Million illiterate adults, two-thirds of which are women. There are over 250 million children unable to read, despite half of them spending at least four years in school and one in four adolescents —175 million— are unable to read a single sentence.
UNESCO announced that Sustainable Development is the focus for this year’s International Literacy Day.
“In the Jamaican context, according to World Bank statistics the adult literacy rate in 2011, was 87.4%, which is higher than the world average of 84.1%. This correlates to an average of 91.7% for adult women and 82.06% for adult men.
Jamaica has managed to eliminate gender disparity in education at the primary level. However, at the secondary level girls outnumber boys and this is even more evident at the tertiary level.
UNESCO chart shows the disparity in various sectors of development due to literacy issues.
“I speak with pride given the achievements of our women and girls, but there is still much work to be done for them and for our men and boys. So let’s redouble our efforts to increase literacy, as this is positively correlated to sustainable development.
There needs to be “All hands on deck” in this global war against illiteracy, and this is why we are very grateful to Poet Laureate and Professor Emeritus Mervyn Morris, Professor Emeritus Edward Baugh and multiple genre writer, academic and journalist Ms. Jean Goulbourne, who volunteered their time to contribute to the celebrations of this Ministry on this auspicious occasion. Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you.”
Special guests at the event included Charge d’Affaires in the Republic of South Africa Philip Riley, Dr. Michael Bucknor who presides over the Department of Literatures in English at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr. Velma Pollard, Dr. Jean Small, Adziko Simba and the Foreign Service staff.-OnPointPress.net.