Eradicating Illiteracy In Primary School – Essay Example

Documented Essay Topic: Eradicating Illiteracy in the Primary School Introduction Every person has the basic right to education. The act of denying achild the right to be educated indirectly instigates creating a society of illiterate adults. The children of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, hence, educating them well in their youth will prove to be useful for their future. Educating children is more like educating the society at large. We have made it this far in life because our parents and society at large has emphasized the value of having a good education. Knowledge connotes power, and only by education can this power be gained. However, it is ironic that despite the advances in technology which mankind has reached, many are still faced with the dilemma of being uneducated. Illiteracy is a big problem that is currently affecting many nations in the world today. Illiteracy means the lack of the basics skills such as reading, writing, and communicating. To address this problem, many countries are advocating free primary education, which is a positive move towards eradicating illiteracy in our society.
Causes of primary school illiteracy
According to world statistics, it is estimated that one in every five adults over the age of 15 is illiterate. In a UNESCO report dated 7 Sept 2001, there were already about 1 billion non-literate adults, or 26% of the world’s adult population (“International Literacy Day”) in 2001. Correspondingly, this number has definitely increased as of this date. From these statistics alone, one can see that the problem of illiteracy has reached alarming levels and needs to be addressed at the soonest time.
Primary school learning is essential for the child as it equips him/her with the basics. It is by literacy through education that a person acquires the skills and capabilities that will sustain him/her throughout his/her life. In school one learns how to read, write, communicate with others, and learn valuable knowledge. Today, almost all jobs entail the use of basic reading and writing skills, and it would be very difficult for anyone to get employed without the fundamental skills associated with literacy. The education of children is of utmost importance in securing a better world for them to dwell in, as well as for everyone around them.
The first step in fighting illiteracy is conducting an investigation of its probable causes. Some researchers in New Zealand carried out a research to ascertain the reasons why illiteracy among primary school children was still prevalent. They found out that most of the children dropped out of school at the fourth grade due to certain reasons. The reasons stated were: 1) some children perceived education to be difficult, 2) some of the schools did not have enough resources (both equipments and human resource) and this affected the quality of education given to this children, 3) other children could not get access to schools, and 4) the lack of teacher student relationship (Comber and Nixon 2).
Illiteracy in primary schools, especially in third world countries, has been caused by declining levels of financial support and budget allocations to education. Most schools lack the appropriate books and other reading materials to effectively carry out its educational programs. It is estimated that among the middle income earners, thirteen children can access only one book, while among the low income earners, one book should be shared by a total of 300 children. Furthermore, these children do not have much time to study. They have to do the household chores such as cooking and fetching firewood (Moysy et al 6). Poverty affects most households and instead of the children going to school or studying, they are abused and overworked and forced to provide a living for the family. Other students cannot even afford the necessary requirements to go to school such as uniforms and books, because most live below the poverty line. There also exists a predominant ignorance among parents on the significance of education, and hence they are not interested in it, nor to the benefits that it may give to their son/daughter. It will necessitate extra efforts from the government and non governmental organizations if at all illiteracy shall be eradicated.
Efforts of eradicating illiteracy
UNESCO is trying to fight primary school illiteracy by targeting the most vulnerable sectors of the population – that is, the street children, slum residents, refugees, and children with special needs such as the mentally or physically disabled. Its primary goal is the promotion of education for all. So far, it has succeeded in doing this though it is facing many challenges especially in poor countries where expenditure on primary education is on the decline with a threat on its quality (Anon. 2).
Most developing countries have already seen the need for education and are advocating for free and compulsory primary education. All children are supposed to remain in school until the age of 15 years. Some of these countries are researching on the possibilities of incorporating free and compulsory secondary education, however, this initiative is proving to be difficult. In Bangladesh, the government has started a program called “Integrated Non-Formal Education Pragramme” (INFEP) in 1991, with the purpose of educating the illiterate persons within the country. In line with it, other programmes have been started such as the “Library Association of Bangladesh” (LAB) which is working to build awareness and interest among policy makers and other groups in the society. This is done through written articles and newsletters which are disseminated to the public through seminars, the holding of conferences with policy makers and conducting meetings with development agents in the rural areas. Bangladesh has been supported by the UNESCO in setting up its libraries and information centers in villages such as the Kakrain, Tetulia and Hajipara. These libraries are aimed at promoting awareness among the rural dwellers as well as encouraging them to read. The country has played a very great role in supporting both formal and non-formal education to children and adults. Those children who cannot make it to the formal institutions are gathered in their rural areas where they receive non-formal education (Uddin 9).
In the Bahamas, the illiteracy rate is relatively low – only 4.4% of the total population as of 2003 (“The World Factbook”). This is perhaps largely due to the free education provided by the government until high school. Since the 1960s, the government has made a substantial effort to improve the countrys education system (“Bahamas Education”) which possibly accounts for the country’s high literacy rate. The educational system in the Bahamas is mostly public, and ‘as much as 24% of the National Budget is allotted to education’ (“Education in the Bahamas”). From these data alone, it can be seen what benefits are realized when education is given considerable importance
Whose responsibility?
It is our responsibility to ensure that children are not denied their right to education. Parents (who are usually the child’s first teachers), in collaboration with the society, should ensure that their children go to school to acquire learning. They should be taken to schools where they will be assured of quality education. Any parent who is deemed to refuse his/her children their right should be taken to necessary authorities and appropriate measures / sanctions should be meted upon him/her to ensure that these children remain in schools.
It is the work of the government to promote primary education by offering free education and necessary equipments for learning. Quality education can only be facilitated by professional teachers. The government should ensure that there are enough and competent teachers in all schools to facilitate learning (Bass 85). Informal education should be provided to adults as ways of encouraging them to support their children in accessing education (Pandey 83). Most parents refuse their children their right to go to school due to their ignorance. They were never educated and therefore they do not know the value of education or why they should allow their children to go to school. Those who are more informed should not kowtow to such beliefs or convictions. Adult education would play a very great role in convincing such parents. Most developing countries have started adult education where all illiterate adults are encouraged to attend.
Illiteracy in primary schools is a predicament that is eating away at our society. It is currently a universal problem that is affecting many nations in the world. Children should be allowed their right to education irrespective of race, ethnic, physical or mental disabilities. UNESCO has tried to fight with this challenge by promoting education to all especially the less privileged sectors of the society. Among the many countries aggressively fighting with illiteracy, Bangladesh has started implementing solutions to provide awareness to the public, as well as promoting learning. It is now working hand in hand with the rural development agents to encourage learning within the rural set up.
There are concrete solutions which can be carried out to cope with the problem of illiteracy. It is the responsibility of the parents, the society and the government to ensure that children remain in schools because eventually, literate children will make up a world of intellectuals.
Works Cited
Anon. “Bahamas Education”. 10 Nov 2004. 22 April 2010.
Anon. “Educating all-eradicating illiteracy-includes related information on basic education conference to be held in Thailand.” UN Chronicle, 1990. 12th Apr. 2010

Anon. “Education in the Bahamas: Legions of Smart Kids Having Their Minds Shackled by Bahamas Government Bureaucrats”. The Bahamas Guide. 2000, 22 April 2010.
Anon. “International Literacy Day”. SIL International, 2010. 21 April 2010.
Anon. “The World Factbook”. The Central Intelligence Agency. 22 April 2010.
Bass, Catriona. Education in Tibet: policy and practice since 1950 Politics in contemporary Asia. London: Zed Books, 1998
Comber Barbara, and Nixon Helen. “Re-searching literacy development: Visible and invisible repertoires in middle primary school Centre for Studies in Literacy, Policy and Learning Cultures.” University of South Australia, 2003. 12th Apr. 2010.
Moysy, Zaghloul. “UNESCO and International Bureau of Education. The challenge of illiteracy: from reflection to action.” Volume 995 of Garland reference library of social science. Volume 1 of IBE studies on education New York: Taylor & Francis, 1994
Pandey V. C. Literacy None-Formal Education. Volume 2 of Education Planning and Human Development. New York: Gyan Books, 2005
Uddin Hanif. “Role of libraries in eradicating illiteracy in Bangladesh, with special reference to the situation in the SAARC countries.” Information science today, 2009. 12th Apr. 2010.