Laos has set a goal to wipe out illiteracy by 2015, through strengthening and expanding the education system across the nation despite challenges still facing the sector.

This comment was made by Deputy Minister of Education and Sports Mr Lytou Bouapao, who revealed the ambitious plan on Friday to mark the 49th anniversary of International Literacy Day (September 8).

Mr Lytou said, “All sectors should strengthen and expand the education system in order to turn our ‘Education for All’ plan into reality.”

The theme for International Literacy Day 2014 is ‘Literacy and Sustainable Development’. Literacy is one of the key elements needed to promote sustainable development, as it empowers people to make the right decisions in the areas of economic growth, social development and environmental integration.

Mr Lytou said the most important thing was to urge all education departments, districts, teachers and village leaders around the country to work with local authorities to encourage illiterate people to go back to school.

He said by learning to read and write, they would improve and develop their lives and their communities.

“To reach the government’s target, we require all the concerned sectors and departments to work together to raise the standard of our education system in all parts of the country,” Mr Lytou said.

Last academic year, the ministry recorded literacy skills in over 65,000 youths, including 5,000 rural children aged 6-14.

There are now 144 literate districts in the country out of a total of 148, and the ministry is expected to declare the remaining districts of Anouvong, Longchaeng, Longxan and Hom in Xaysomboun province as literate communities by 2015.

Literacy is by far the most neglected goal on the education agenda, Mr Lytou said.

He said in most countries, illiterate people were from the most disadvantaged and marginalised populations, with a high percentage being women and girls, indigenous people, linguistic and cultural minorities, nomads, rural dwellers and the disabled.

“Literacy is not just about reading and writing, it is about self-respect and human dignity and about opportunities that give hope to individuals, families, communities and entire societies,” Mr Lytou said.

However, despite clear evidence of the power of literacy to transform individual lives and patterns of social development, in many parts of the world there is neither the political will nor the resources to make youth and adult literacy an area of priority.

A recent message was made by the Director General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, to mark the International Literacy Day.

She said while the empowering role of literacy and its significance for development had been recognised worldwide, there were still over 780 million illiterate people. Out of this figure, two-thirds were women and around 250 million of these people were unable to read a full sentence.

September 8 was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO on November 17, 1965. It was first celebrated in 1966, with the aim to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.

On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally and celebrations take place around the world.

Source: Vientiane Times
By Phaisythong Chandara
Published on September 08, 2014