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Batho Pele Principles

International Literacy Day

By: Harley Ngobeni

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) proclaimed 8 September as International Literacy Day on 17 November 1965 with the aim to highlight the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies. On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the importance of literacy and adult learning globally.

 

As part of International Literacy Day 2016, the Honourable MEC of Education Mr Ishmael Kgetjepe promoted the Read to Lead Campaign in South Africa in collaboration with UNESCO, the National Union of Mine Workers and Mining Qualifications Authority, under the theme: “Education for career progression & Liberation of society. The event took place at Northam Mine, Zondereinde on 10 September 2016. The activities for the day included reading competitions and awards for learners that motivated them to embrace a culture of reading for academic advancement, as well as for pleasure.

In celebrating International Literacy Day MEC Kgetjepe said “We are not just celebrating the day but we are celebrating progress in our fight and quest to eradicate illiteracy in workplaces and communities. Our current learners and those who have completed their Adult and Education Training programmes present here today are a living testimony of the progress we are making. We congratulate you and applaud your lifelong learning in this regard. It is never too late. Yours is a good story to tell indeed!”

Honourable Kgetjepe reminded everyone that the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies cannot be over emphasized. He indicated that the significance of the ability to read and write is something that cannot be taken lightly because literacy has far greater strength in contributing for the well-being and happiness of society. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right.

It is at the heart of basic education for all and essential for ensuring sustainable development in society. For individuals, families and societies alike, it is an instrument of empowerment to improve one’s relationship with the world. “We are happy that the mining sector is taking issues of literacy very seriously because these days, mines use high tech machines that require the abilities to read and write for successful operations. We are saying the fortunate lot must reach out to the unfortunate and equip them with this powerful weapon of literacy,” said Mr Kgetjepe.

MEC appealed to all stakeholders that were present to reinforce their commitment to the eradication of illiteracy so that all South Africans can be empowered enough to work for their own interests and that of the larger community. “We must do so because the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa enshrines the right of all citizens to basic education, including adult basic education, and to further education, which the state, through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible”, said Mr Kgetjepe.