Third Eye

Build on literacy levels attained worrying

Thursday, September 12th, 2019 19:29 |
Education Cabinet secretary George Magoha. Photo/BERNARD MALONZA

The world marked the International Literacy Day on September 8 amid apprehension  of dwindling reading habits, especially among a burgeoning young  population.

Celebrated annually, the occasion serves as an opportunity for governments and stakeholders to reflect on issues touching on literacy.  It is also apt to reflect on the challenges that  influence literacy  in an increasingly digital environment globally.  Literacy remains a key goal of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.  

The SDGs adopted in September 2015, among others, promotes universal access to quality education and learning opportunities across the  world. 

Such international days provide opportunities to rally stakeholders and focus on critical thematic issues, lobby for political will and resources to tackle specific challenges. The attainment of  higher literacy levels is integral to humanity’s overall well being.    

Just two decades ago, one million children were out of school in Kenya, then the ninth highest in the world. Primary education was not enough to ensure all children could at the very basic, read and write.

Though the figures oscillate from one year to the next, there was a major decrease between 2000 and 2015, during which 78 per cent was attained.

At some point, 850,000 children aged between six and 17 years were out of school in Kenya, according to the Ministry of Education.

UNESCO says Kenya has an adult literacy rate of 78.73 per cent. This is commendable with the  male literacy rate is 83.78 per cent, while that for females is 74.01 per cent.

The literacy rate has increased in recent years but a lot more needs to be done to ensure the transition from primary to secondary education remains  both optimum and sustainable.

Too many children and more so girls  from  conservative communities  from fringe areas, often saddled with insecurity  still do not access education. Furthermore, the number of teachers  willing to serve  in these places keep dwindling, arising from security challenges.   

The quality of education will remain a major challenge unless conscious effeorts are rolled out  and  where necessary,  incentivised. Calls to lower taxes on imported paper, books and related materials to make books more affordable should be heeded. 

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