Friday, March 19, 2010

Gambia Among States With High Illiteracy In Africa

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA(MB)- Research has found that with 776 million illiterate adults in the world and 7 million children out of school, whose rights and needs remain unfulfilled, The Gambia is among countries in Africa with a high percentage of illiterates.

According to the Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS) and national population census 2003, the literacy rate in years and over is estimated at 52.1 percent, 4.0 percent for female and 4 percent for males.

In percentage terms, Africa has the highest level of illiterates and The Gambia counts among African countries with a high percentage of illiterates.
Illiteracy can be defined as “the denial of the violation of human, social, economic, cultural ad political rights”.
“It is believed that illiteracy reduces the human, social and economic growth, development and competitiveness in the global village.
In the literacy levels for the official age cohorts for adult literacy in The Gambia, investigations revealed that 15-24 year plus cohort is estimated at 42.5 percent, with 30.6 percent for female and 55.1 percent for men.
Although these literacy rates have fallen below the average for sub-Saharan African (77 percent) there have been appreciable levels of improvements from the 1998 levels of the 15-24 age category for men and women which was 48.5 percent and 2 percent respectively.
With the high level of illiteracy in the country, the Education Policy 2004-2015 aims, among others, to reduce the rate of illiteracy by 50 percent by 2015 which the policy said is in consonance with the Dakar Framework for Action which promotes the creation of a literate society sufficient to contribute to socio economic advancement of populations.
Going through the Medium Term Plan for the Education Sector 2008-2011, the plan pursues three objectives during the period 2008-2011, that is, to reduce national illiteracy rates from 57 percent to about 50 percent, reduce national female illiteracy from 69.4 percent to 57 percent and reduce national male illiteracy from 44.9 percent to 42 percent.
In pursuit of the above target, it was mentioned that a comprehensive non-formal education programme will be drawn up and implemented across the country for the age cohort 15 plus years in order to provide functional literacy for illiterate adults, as well as out of school youths, especially women.
Many governments, civil society organisations, enterprises, community groups and individuals understand the benefits of literacy and are conscientious in support of literacy programmes, but more needs to be done.
In the Gambia, in terms of education service delivery for the sub-sector (literacy), there is a major shift in focus from the traditional approach of providing literacy by the public sector to a public private partnership approach which empowers non governmental organisations and civil society organisations like TOSTAN in the provision of literacy. It is also recommended that the focus on partnerships and linkages will be essential and crucial for the implementation of literacy programmes.
In fact, the partnership with NGOs, CSOs and other stakeholders through a public-private partnership approach will, therefore, be an on-going process building on trust and confidence, leading to a “win-win” situation.
Partners should be supported through the provision of funds, mobilisation of resources, capacity building in implementation strategies, monitoring and evaluation and other forms of participation. The partnership should also be built based on the procedure manual that clearly spells out the role and responsibilities of each stakeholder.
“As many studies have found, literacy is an empowering force that serves to increase self-esteem, confidence and assertiveness and helps to build a sense of personal competence and independence together with better awareness of one’s rights.
“Literacy gives enhanced autonomy to individuals in both the family and community context.
“These human benefits of literacy give rise to consequences of significance for society as a whole”.
Literacy, on the other hand, is not just about reading and writing, it is about self-respect and human dignity and about opportunities that give hope to individuals, families, communities and entire societies.
Literacy is vital for securing access to political, economic and cultural opportunities while, in most countries, illiterate adults are the most disadvantaged and marginalised populations with a high percentage of women and girls among them.

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