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Illiteracy rate drops significantly in Eritrea

Interview with Mr. Tikwabo Aimut, member of the  Adult Education program at the Ministry of Education, on the occasion of International Literacy Day.

Mr. Tikwabo, what was the aim of the workshop you are conducting on the occasion of the International Literacy Day?

The workshop we conducted was basically to assess the activities conducted and the achievements attained within the last ten years and before. Further more the workshop was to asses to where we have reached and sees the remaining tasks that should be undertaken to reach to our target plan of 2015, Millennium Development Plan in terms Adult Education. What we have doing so far was that we toured all six administrative regions to conduct literacy assessment with those concerned institutions and organizations responsible for the Adult Education and assess the achievement of the last ten years regarding Adult Education Program. Workshop was conducted in each region and two impact assessment papers were presented. One paper was to compile reports of the last ten years from the regional offices of the Ministry of Education on the people’s participation in Adult Education including their age, sex, occupation, ethnicity and medium of learning. The process for compiling the reports had two advantages, one to assess the achievements we have attained and the challenges faced and the measures taken to alleviate the challenges and the other to introduce data base system. The aim of the second paper was to conduct situation analysis in every sub-region. To evaluate whether each region, sub-region and administrative localities were beneficiaries from the Adult Education program for the last ten years. To seriously identify which sub-region was beneficiary and which one did not and to understand why that particular sub-region was not beneficiary and to design priority. And we discussed about every report we had at this workshop conducted on the occasion of the International Literacy Day.  Because it was part of the over all education assessment that is conducted international level.

Education for all is ten years program, from 2000 to 2015. As to my understanding that I observed from the workshop the Adult Education Program has raised the awareness of the public. There is the awareness that Adult Education has a big role to play in development activities of the country. Development activities are always interlinked with education, the more educated human resources we have the more development programs we conduct. If we want to see a developed Eritrea, self reliant where its citizens live a better life, we have to have developed education programs. The basis for education is also eradication of illiteracy. If we are not able to eradicate illiteracy we could not talk about sustainability of education.

We have two strategic programs. One is the way to enhancing the existing literacy program and the other to conduct rigorous campaign to out reach areas that we were unable to reach, such people who live nomadic life and others living in extreme remote areas.  To implement the second strategy we have first to identify the location of the people, how many are they, their ages, sex and what resources that it need to reach them and enable them to become beneficiaries of the program.

For how many times are we commemorating this day?

The International Day of Literacy is being commemorated for 46th time at global level and  10th at national level. Eritrea started commemorating this day in the year 2002.  Eritrea received International Literacy Award from UNESCO for its accomplishment in regards adult education program undeterred by the numerous challenges it had to go through. That means Eritrea is acclaimed internationally for its success story in literacy campaign.

How do you assess the achievement gained in terms of illiteracy eradication in percent?

As I tried to mention earlier at the early stage of the campaign we had some obscurity in collecting information. As a result we had no information of the percent of illiteracy in our country. During independence we estimate 80% of our population was illiterate. 90% of our women were illiterate. Now we have come to understand that instead of going in making percentages it is better to assess on how many people have participated and become successful. In 2008 National literacy survey was conducted nation wide. According to the survey 64.6% of our population can read and write.

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