AS the world celebrates the International Literacy Day that falls today, September 8, Rwanda has intensified its steps to ensure that more people learn how to read and write.
Endorsed by UNESCO, the Literacy Day is proclaimed for spreading literacy awareness amongst the world’s illiterate communities.
The Ministry of Education has kick-started an adult literacy programme under which an estimated 162,000 people will have been trained under the programme by the end of December.
Speaking to The New Times yesterday, the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Dr. Mathias Harebamungu, said that the program had begun in some districts.
“The programme has started in Rusizi, Rutsiro, Nyarugenge, Bugesera and others. We also hope to implement it in the remaining districts as soon as possible since the required materials have already been distributed,” said Harebamungu.
In speeding up the programme, the ministry has targeted Senior Six leavers to help teach adults in their respective communities. Over 8,600 youths have been trained and equipped with all the necessary teaching materials and they will offer this service on voluntary basis.
Statistics from the Education Ministry indicate that the rate of illiteracy, which is mainly rampant in rural communities, currently stands at 25 percent.
The government, through the framework of the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) has set a target of having 85 percent of men and 80 percent of women literate by 2011.
Achieving this would mean that Rwanda would have surpassed the target envisaged in the MDGs of cutting the illiteracy rate by half by 2015.
Meanwhile Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, yesterday released a statement in which she underlined the importance of a literate woman in society.
“When a woman is literate, she can make choices to dramatically change her life for the better. But ten years into the 21st century, two in every three of the world’s 759 million illiterate adults are women,” reads the statement in part.
“Illiteracy keeps women marginalized and constitutes a foremost obstacle of reducing extreme poverty in a technology-driven world where reading, writing and numeracy are indispensable for enjoying basic rights and opportunities”.
According to Bokova, investing in women’s literacy carries very high returns: “It improves livelihoods, leads to better child and maternal health, and favours girls’ access to education”.
She added that over the past decade, the gender gap in education has narrowed in many countries.