“Illiteracy A Major Factor Impeding Advancement of Society”

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Acting Executive Director of Alfalit International Liberia, Mr. Jerome Williams

…Says Alfalit Acting Executive Director 

The Acting Executive Director of Alfalit Liberia Inc, Mr. Jerome Williams has attributed the huge illiteracy rate in the Liberian society as a major factor that impedes national advancement. 

He made these remarks when the organization joined other countries around the world on September 8, 2020 to celebrate international Literacy Day.  The International Literacy Day is celebrated annually on 8 September, and it is an opportunity for Governments, civil society and stakeholders to highlight improvements in world literacy rates, and reflect on the world’s remaining literacy challenges. 

The event, which was held at the Church of God edifice in Paynesville with more than 400 students and older women from the Alfalit Liberia’s literacy training program in attendance, was however held under the global theme “Literacy Teaching and Learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, with focus on the role of educators and changing pedagogies.”

Speaking during the event, Mr. Williams said Liberia needs a robust education for all approaches in order to eradicate the high level of illiteracy in the country. 

“We need education for all” where everyone, no matter where you are, can access education formally or informally,” he stated. 

While thanking the government and the international partners for the high level of consideration in education as part of its priority, Mr. Williams, in his remarks, pleaded with the government of Liberia to be robust in eradicating illiteracy. 

He also called on the government to continue to do everything possible to support all efforts in its endeavors to eradicate illiteracy in Liberia, something he believes could help the country.

“Let me also call on the churches to rise up… to make sure more of God’s people are able to read the Bible themselves with comprehension.” 

The Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Alfalit International-Liberia, Mrs. Mildred Dean, expressed delight in Alfalit’s program. Over the years, she noted, statistics have proven that for every one man in Liberia, there are 25 women that are left behind that could not read and write. 

She expressed optimism that, with the presence of Alfalit International Liberia, the paradigm of such statistics will change soon because the organization is committed to eradicating illiteracy in Liberia. 

Student Testimonies 

Ma Sue Pokah, a graduate from the Alfalit Literacy Training Program told the public that she was honored to have been a graduate of the Alfalit training program. 

Ma Sue Pokah, one of the graduates of the Alfalit Liberia literacy program

Ms. Pokah explained at the program that she was 15 years of age when she started school. “This was because I had no family support and, when I first entered, the principal of the school took advantage of my situation and abused me sexually.” 

Today I am grateful to our national and international partners for their support to us. 

The Alfalit program, she said, has helped her by bringing transformation to her life. 

“I never thought that I could learn how to read and write, but today, God first, Alfalit second. Do you know what I am capable of doing today? Because of Alfalit, I write text messages, transact business from my mobile phone, as well as do bank transactions without the help of anyone,” Ms. Pokah added. 

She told her counterparts that literacy is not all about reading and writing but it is about comprehension. She used the occasion to encourage other ladies to take advantage of the program as it has a life-changing story. 

The thanksgiving service was organized by the organization in commemoration of this year’s International Literacy Day and was however graced by Mr. Kenneth Y. Best, Publisher of the Daily Observer in Liberia, including the Director for Alternative Education at the Ministry of Education and other important guests.

September 8 was declared International Literacy Day by UNESCO on October 26, 1966 at the 14th session of UNESCO’s General conference.

It was celebrated for the first time in 1967. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. Celebrations take place in several countries including Liberia.  

Liberia, according to a UNESCO report, says that around 52% of the Liberian population remains illiterate (meaning that they cannot read and write).

The ability to read and write is a challenge for many, nevertheless once a person has the ability to comprehend and live the change that education brings, the country will make significant progress.

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