The Director of UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Africa, Ms Ann Therese Ndong Jatta, has said that literacy is a right while illiteracy is the denial or violation of human, social, economic, cultural and political rights.
Ms Ndong Jatta made these remark on Monday at the Kairaba Beach Hotel during the opening of a four day conference on Adult and Non-Formal Education ANFE. The theme for the conference is (Rethinking Adult and Non-Formal Education for more efficient and effective services delivery). According to Ms Ndong Jatta, illiteracy reduces the human, social and economic growth, development and competitiveness in the global village adding that around the World 774 million adults are illiterates majority of whom are women. She said Gambia ranks among the countries in Africa with a high percentage of illiterates. Ms Ndong Jatta noted that literacy and adult non-formal learning is therefore not simply to be able to read and write without application for better healthy, livelihood and opportunities to participate in national development. "Although Gambia has made tremendous strides and stands as one of the member states in Africa with high enrolment of literacy levels of both in school and out of school youth and adults, leave much to be desired with", Ms Ndong Jatta lamented.
For his part the Secretary Of State for the Department Of State for Basic and Secondary Education, Fatou Lamin Faye described the conference as the first of its kind to be organized in the Gambia. She said the conference seeks to review current policies and practice with a view to coming up with strategic policy option suitable to meet the learning needs of illiterate's members of our society whose segment of the population constitutes more than 50 percent.
Secy. Faye said Gambia's literacy status is not very much different from the global perspectives. She said that the 2003 census report further revealed that the literacy level is still low among females in The Gambia about 40 percent compared to an estimated 64 percent among males. The conference will wrap up tomorrow.