"Literacy empowers individuals, families and communities with life skills and practical knowledge that build self-confidence."
KAMPALA - The 11th Pan-African Literacy for All Conference aimed at forging ways of improving literacy as a bridge to equity is underway in Kampala.
The three-day summit was opened by the Minister of State for Primary Education (Rosemary Seninde), who represented the First Lady of Uganda and Minister for Education and Sports, Janet Museveni.
In her opening remarks, Mrs Museveni said literacy is an important tool for a country’s development, adding that there is a direct link between literacy rate of people and a nation’s development status.
“The higher the literacy rates, the higher the social-economic development of a nation.
"Literacy empowers individuals, families and communities with life skills and practical knowledge that build self-confidence, enabling one to exploit the environment for self-development as well as national development,” she said.
Organised by the Reading Association of Uganda (RAU) and the education ministry, the conference is running under the theme Literacy; A bridge to equity.
The First Lady described the summit as the most important conference in the field of literacy in Africa.
This is the second time Uganda is hosting the conference, having last done so in 2003. It is only literacy conference in Africa.
At least 1,000 delegates from over 40 countries, mainly from Africa, are attending the conference, during which as many as 130 papers are being discussed.
According to the patron of RAU, Loy Tumusiime, the conference is providing a platform for literacy experts and researchers to come up with various interventions and findings that will position literacy as a bridge to equity.
The discussions are rotating around nine sub-themes, including: literacy teaching and coaching across the curriculum, early childhood teaching and learning, gender and sustainable literacy equity and literacy curriculum for equitable student achievement.
The keynote speakers are Prof. Mahmood Mamdani, Dr. Sakil Malik, Dr. Robinah Kyeyune and Dr. Wendy Saul.
The World Vision's programme quality director, Simon Manning, commended Uganda for hosting the conference, saying literacy is a fundamental right.
“Children need to be literate for their future to be secure. All countries need literate people to achieve their development goals and it is good that we are here to discuss literacy,” he said.
Margaret Muthiga, the chairperson of the International Development Committee in Africa (IDC-A), called upon African countries to unite and fight against illiteracy.
“We need to make sure our continent is literate. It is no longer going to be anyone in the Western world to sponsor our literacy programmes. We need to do it on our own,” she said.