NOT being able to read and write is being literally blind in this modern age, Community Development Minister Dame Carol Kidu said yesterday.
Dame Carol said this when speaking at the Tabari Place to mark the National Literacy Week yesterday.
The event was organised by the PNG Education and Advocacy Network (PEAN) in partnership with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which provide literacy programmes and themed “Literacy: Key to success”.
“Noken sem (don’t be ashamed), if you cannot read or write. Have courage to come out and say ‘yes, I want to read and write’,” Dame Carol said.
“In Papua New Guinea, less than half (43%) of the children are not in schools. It is a big shame but I know that the Government is working at addressing this and looking for ways to change it.
“Free education is not going to work for us because the Government and the Education Department will have to find enough teachers and schools to cater for this,” she said.
Dame Carol pointed out that the Government could help by making policies but it was the NGOs and church-based groups such as World Vision, Anglicare StopAIDS and many others with adult literacy programmes which were doing the real work to help the country.
Dame Carol said her ministry was now working at building literacy centres in the city to teach people in English and Tok Pisin.
“The emphasis will be on the English language because we want you to be able to read books from all over the world and be able to write your own stories.
“Knowledge is the future of PNG. Our mineral resources are important too, but if people do not know how to read and write, then what will we do with these resources?” she said.
Dame Carol said that though it was the Government’s duty to provide for the country and anyone wanting to blame the Government must place it on all the governments since Independence.
“Also, we must look back to ourselves and ask what we, as individuals, are doing to reduce the illiteracy rates.
“Do not sit back and wait for someone to do it for you.
“You must do it yourselves,” she said.
Dame Carol challenged fathers to read to their children to raise the awareness in their children, saying that by starting a reading club in the family can help reduce the illiteracy rates.