AS Papua New Guinea’s fortieth anniversary of independence approaches so does the twentieth National Literacy Week.
With this in mind, we might turn our attention to the state of literacy in our country.
Here’s the short story – the literacy rate is increasing at a snails’ pace.
Last year’s national literacy report revealed that 23 districts in PNG have very low literacy rates, rates below 40%; which is a sad factual situation.
We have reached 40 years of political Independence and to have 23 districts with very low literacy rates is hard to believe.
From 2010 National Research Institute data, 83% of these districts are in the Highlands with Karimui-Nomane showing the lowest figure of just over 20%.
This is not a trivial matter. Education is one of the critical priorities of our country yet we have the lowest literacy rate in the Pacific.
PNG has been identified by UNESCO as one of the 35 countries in the Asia-Pacific region that require urgent attention to improve the adult literacy rate.
The eradication of illiteracy and innumeracy is not only the responsibility of the government, the education department or other authorities. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us.
Papua New Guineans who are educated have a responsibility and obligation to help families, relatives and friends who may be illiterate and innumerate.
The development of our nation is enhanced by the citizens of PNG being literate and numerate.
People need functional literacy, skills and knowledge that they can use every day to better their lives, communities and the whole country.
PNG’s literacy policy is 14 years old and needs updating to meet the 21st century.
Literacy is for everyone, it is for empowerment for a better now, tomorrow and future.
Florence Jonduo is a researcher and writer with Media Niugini Limited