Although TT’s official literacy rate is 99 per cent, President Paula-Mae Weekes said according to past surveys it is lower owing to differences in the way literacy is measured.
In her statement on the occasion of International Literacy Day, Weekes said, “Literacy is a fundamental instrument of self-expression, communication and human development.” She noted that literacy was defined as the ability to read and write. However, UNESCO further described it as “a means of identification, understanding, interpretation, creation, and communication in an increasingly digital, text-mediated, information-rich and fast-changing world.”
She said literacy was important to human dignity as well as sustainable development, transforming lives and empowering people to fully participate in their country’s social and economic life. Yet over 750 million people around the world could not read or write despite advances made to improve literacy levels.
Weekes said poverty, conflict, family dysfunction, social stigma, and deficiencies in the education system, which often did not take into account learning and physical disabilities, were some of the factors which hinder people’s ability to become literate.
“This year, in honour of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the theme of International Literacy Day is Literacy and Multilingualism. Linguistic diversity is a particularly relevant topic for us in TT given our proximity to the South American continent and is critical to navigating an increasingly interconnected and fast-paced world effectively.
“In honour of International Literacy Day 2019, let a culture of literacy permeate our homes, schools and workplaces so that every citizen can become functional and productive members of a global society.”