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The Ministry of Education in collaboration with the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) and the National Data Management Authority (NDMA) on Friday observed International Literacy Day under the theme “Literacy in a Digital World”, at the South Ruimveldt Park Primary School.

In her feature address Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry highlighted the goals of this year’s literacy day. “To close the literacy skills gaps and reduce inequalities, …to highlight the challenges and opportunities in promoting literacy in the digital world. A world where despite progress at least 750 million adults and 265 million out of school children still lack basic literacy skills and Guyana is not excluded from those numbers.”

Minister Henry alluded to the African proverb, “it takes a community to raise a child”, as she noted it takes a communal effort to raise our children, thus acknowledging the participation of other stakeholders in observing the literacy day.

She revealed that the government is currently installing internet facilities across the country for all to have equal access to information, especially people in the hinterland regions.

“It is the goal of this government to provide the technology and the opportunity for our citizens to conduct research and for children to complete research.”

In light of the advantages the digital world brings to society, Minister Henry advised parents and guardians to monitor their children’s usage of the internet. “We must acknowledge that despite the benefits, there is also the negative sides where the internet is used for inappropriate information and messages…we need to be diligent and to guide our children to use the internet responsibly,” she 20170908 3

Chief Education Officer, Marcel Hutson in brief remarks , disclosed that the Ministry is in the process of issuing learning kits to Grade One students in all schools in Guyana.

He said, “The ministry is in the process of distributing literacy resource toolkits in all grade one classes countrywide to help ensure that learners in the foundation classes are given every possible opportunity to acquire and master literacy skills that will lead to lifelong learning.”

UNESCO Secretary General, Patrice La Fleur said her organisation directly contributes to nine of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and highlighted number four which deals with quality education.

Also, National Data Management Authority representative, Dr. Samantha Scotland stated that her organisation’s focus is on the execution of the national E-governance programme as a platform for sustainable and social development.

Transforming Guyana into a knowledge-based society is part of that implementation; however, Dr. Scotland noted there were some challenges in achieving that goal, which included access to the internet, the tools and equipment required to use the internet and the knowledge and skills needed to leverage 20170908 5

Nevertheless, over the past two years Scotland said her organisation has made “great strides in overcoming those obstacles,” since they have provided tertiary institutions, ninety-five schools and other educational institutions, including some hinterland regions across Guyana with internet access.

There were also presentations from representatives of the Ministry of Social Protection, Bishop’s High School PTA Coordinator, parents and teachers of various schools.