Anglin says literacy key to higher living standards

| 08/09/2010

(CNS): In his message marking the UN’s “International Literacy Day” the education minister said that poor literacy levels are a barrier to high standards of living. As a result it is a high priority in the government education system. Rolston Anglin said that a literacy co-ordinator has been appointed in the Ministry, and literacy taskforces have been established in primary and secondary schools. He added that the department was on its way to developing literacy strategies based upon international best practice that would provide a safety net for the most vulnerable students. 

 Education Minister’s full message:
Today, Wednesday, 8 September, has been designated “International Literacy Day”, by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). As Minister for Education, Training and Employment, I join countries around the world in commemorating this day, and using it as a platform to highlight the importance of literacy.
UNESCO reminds us of the critical role literacy plays, when it declares literacy to be “a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development.” Traditionally, literacy has been referred to as the ability to read, understand and use information. However, as Donald Block, author of Defining Literacy Up states, literacy needs to focus “not on recognizing basic words but on comprehension of the world around us”. 
People need literacy skills to participate in modern society, whether it is to read a newspaper, to calculate the dosage of medication, to use a computer programme, or to understand and debate important public issues. Reading and being able to comprehend what you’ve read is important in keeping you safe and allowing you to learn and grow to better yourself. 
Low literacy skills can have an impact on people’s ability to support themselves andtheir family. International research findings, and our own experience within the Job Placement Unit of the Department of Employment Relations, tell us that strong literacy skills are closely linked to the probability of having a good job, decent earning, and access to training opportunities. Individuals with weak literacy skills are more likely to be unemployed or, if employed, to be in jobs that pay little or that offer poor hours or working conditions.
Literacy skills can also affect our country’s ability to compete in a highly-competitive global economy. As a service-based economy, the Cayman Islands’ require a high skilled and productive workforce. Low literacy skills can be a barrier for our country to maintain a strong and thriving community and the high standard of living we have come to enjoy. 
Literacy is fundamental for learning in school. Poor literacy skills handicap our children’s ability to learn and, therefore, their life chances. In recent times, the term literacy has come to take on broader meaning, standing for a range of knowledge, skills and abilities relating to reading, mathematics, science and more.
This reflects widespread and deep changes that have taken place in technology and in the organization of work over the past quarter century. The ability to use and apply key mathematics and science concepts is now necessary across a wide range of occupations.
Cayman’s children live and compete in a global society. They must excel in every type of literacy so that they have the ability to survive in today’s and tomorrow’s complex and ever-evolving society.
Therefore, within the government education system, literacy is a key priority. With the recent appointment of a Literacy Coordinator within the Ministry, and the establishment of literacy taskforces at both primary and secondary levels, we are well on our well to developing literacy strategies based upon international best practice. These will include programmes to provide a safety net for our most vulnerable students. 
However, we fully recognize that the issue of improving literacy skills needs to be tackled by all partners together as a national priority. As the Microsoft Chairman for Africa and a Literacy Champion has stated: “Promoting literacy requires action from both the public and private sectors; we are all stakeholders in the fight to eradicate illiteracy”.
In the Cayman Islands, we are fortunate to have many concerned individuals, businesses and organizations who give generously of their time and money to literacy initiatives within our schools and the wider community. Our challenge, and one the Ministry will seek to take forward, is to strengthen communications and collaborations with such groups, to establish a common purpose and a strategic and united front to combat illiteracy at all levels within the Cayman Islands community. 
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  1. Anonymous says:

    Minister Anglin, note that your statement only elicited 3 comments in the 24 hours after the article was posted.  Does this silence shout out a message about our education system?

    It is my belief that you can read into this that literacy on the totem pole of education priorities is below ground level and not considered at all. 

    How can we expect to have literate workers when real literacy and literature – for the love of reading – is no longer a part of school, unless it is special subject?

    Our exam driven syllabus education system does not require the reading of books for the pleasure of general reading, to create the thirst for knowledge, to expand the thoughts, to learn about the world, to learn how to communicate, to learn about life and cultures, to train the mind to focus on a subject for hours, then to have concentrate and condense the substance of a book in a book has all been lost.

    Literacy needs to become a high priority education item if our people are ever going to take part in the success of our Islands.

    Book Worm

  2. anonymous says:

    Is government providing any incentives for school leavers scholarships to the International College and university of the Cayman Islands? this is necessary they must have a goal in mind in order to achieve.



  3. anonymous says:

    Ms.Florence keep whipping them into submission,keep telling government how to run their business. Kudos! It looks like Mr. Anglin read your letter about the Freedom Schools for at risk individuals. Keep writing Ms. Florence, tell this bunch of XXX what to do.

    • Anonymous says:

      Literacy is not the complete story. When I came out of school some 25 years ago all was needed was a high school diploma to get a good job. Times have changed you want a good job you have to have college education. Literacy only means you can read and write.

      Point two is that unless I am reading that document wrong it does not say free education.

      In the past Jamaicans and cheap labour expats were not allowed to send their children to Government school which was cheaper. And they could not afford to send them to private school. So they had to leave their children in Jamaica with other family members.

      Expats getting higher paying jobs sometimes got free education for their children as part of the package.