Scores of students from schools in the Corporate Area on September 7 took part in a march to raise awareness about literacy.
The students, from all levels of the education system, journeyed from Nuttall Hospital to the Kingston and St. Andrew Parish Library (Tom Redcam), carrying banners and chanting slogans encouraging citizens to read.
The event, organised by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Jamaica Library Service (JLS), the Jamaica Reading Association and the Spanish-Jamaican Foundation, was part of activities to mark International Literacy Day.
Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, in his message at a ceremony held at the Tom Redcam library at the culmination of the march, emphasised the need for more Jamaicans, particularly parents, to make reading a habit so that their children will mirror this positive behaviour.
The Minister, in his message read by National Literacy Co-ordinator in the Ministry, Dr. Andre Hill, said the "economic and social well-being of our nation depends on building a literate nation, able to read widely for practical purposes and for pleasure."
"Various studies have concluded that children exposed to a culture of reading, model such behaviour and eventually become avid readers and highly intelligent individuals,” he noted.
The Minister pointed out that Jamaica has made significant strides in raising literacy levels, noting that the focus on literacy through structured programmes at the early childhood, primary and secondary levels are aimed at producing a literate adult population and a globally competitive workforce.
"Despite the successes, we acknowledge that there is still room for improvement if we are to achieve our goal of 100 per cent literacy by 2015. It is against this background that the Ministry of Education has developed a range of programmes aimed at ensuring the country’s students attain age-appropriate literacy levels,” he said.
Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency Celsa Nuno, in her remarks, said that literacy means, for any society, “better health, more wealth and definitely more peaceful countries."
She noted that the Spanish-Jamaican Foundation will be making its contribution to further boosting the country’s literacy levels by donating 500 books, which will be distributed among 10 schools.
The Ambassador, who is President of the Foundation, informed that the schools were chosen based on their location to businesses operated by the Spanish groups as well as those institutions that teach Spanish.
The donation also includes posters highlighting the country’s cultural heritage in recognition of the nation’s 50th year of Independence.
International Literacy Day is observed each year on September 8. The day seeks to raise awareness of and concern for literacy issues.
This year, September 7 was designated for schools to engage in activities that reflect the theme: ‘Literacy and Peace’.
Local schools were encouraged to include features, which reflect Jamaica’s history, heritage and achievements, as the country continues to mark its 50th year of Independence.