THIS year marks the 21st National Literacy Week with East New Britain being the host of the event to commemorate the inception of National Literacy Week began in 1963 by United Nations which declared the International Literacy Day on Sep 8.
In PNG, the event is usually coordinated by the National Literacy and Awareness Secretariat (NLAS), one of the bodies of the government in the National Education Department and it runs for a week with literacy programs and activities.
This event is very important to our country because literacy is one of key factors contributing to social and economic poverty.
Our country’s literacy rate after 2011 national census was at 63 per cent which shows great improvement from 56 per cent in 2000.
This is a special event because literacy is one of the biggest issues in the country that needs wider cooperation and participation to improve literacy level across the country.
To fight illiteracy in the majority of the population, it is the responsibility of everyone. This means all of us are responsible to educate ourselves and others.
NLAS plays a very important role in coordinating all the literacy programmes but it needs more support from the government and other stakeholders.
Non-government and civil-based organisations are also doing their part to address the high illiteracy level in the country but there is more need for public private partnership.
In particular, more research and training is required to reduce illiteracy in PNG because it is the main cause of social and economic poverty.
Today everything is in print and written formats and only those with the ability to read and analyze can able to consumed information that helps them in their decision making.
Most of our people are illiterate which means they cannot understand health information, education, politics and economic updates.
All they know is from what other people telling them.
This also means some of our people are depending on others for information because they cannot read and understand.
The onus is on the Government, especially the Education Department, to effectively support and improve efforts to help our illiterate people become literate.