The 48th International Literacy Day (ILD) was marked yesterday (September 8) in all counties. The day was also celebrated worldwide to raise awareness on the importance of literacy in human development.
Illiteracy is a worldwide concern given the fact that more than 796 million adults in the world are illiterate. In Kenya, more than 7.8 million adults and youth above age 15 are illiterate.
The theme for this year’s celebration, ‘Literacy for Peace’, was chosen to stress the important role literacy plays in promoting peace.
The celebrations are important to us as they come at a time the country is facing challenges in provision of adult literacy. Education minister, Mutula Kilonzo, admits his ministry is alive to the challenges that have bedeviled the provision of adult literacy programme.
Adult literacy programmes were particularly affected during the 2007 post-election violence. Up to date, some of these programmes have not resumed as many innocent Kenyans were displaced and some are still living in IDP camps.
The ILD theme therefore has a tremendous relevance to us, especially coming at a time we are preparing to hold the next General Election. It is no secret that countries with patterns of violence have some of the lowest literacy rates in the world. And as Unesco Director-General Irina Bokova notes, conflict remains one of the major barriers to the attainment of the Education For All and Millennium Development Goals.
And as we prepare for the next polls, we must remember that peace is crucial. We must therefore not allow conflict to deprive children and adults of the crucial opportunity of literacy, as this is their fundamental right.