Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has accepted an invitation to become the Champion of Literacy for Solomon Islands when he met with representatives of LASI (Literacy Association of Solomon Islands) and READ SI (Resources for Education to Advance Development in Solomon Islands) yesterday.
The meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office was requested by the two Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) to inform the Prime Minister of their literacy advocacy work in the country and to request him to be a Literacy Champion for the nation by ensuring that the national literacy rate is lifted through government funding support.
Mrs Joyce Boykins, who headed the four- member delegation from LASI and READ SI to the meeting, told the Prime Minister that by accepting the invitation to be a Literacy Champion for the nation, he has effectively accepted the responsibility of being an advocator for literacy in the country through the availing of government funding for literacy and encouraging Members of Parliament to also assist in the literacy endeavor.
She said LASI and READ SI understand that the Prime Minister is weighed down with a lot of issues to deal with but if he can ensure the Government or encourage Members of Parliament to assist more Solomon Islanders to learn to read through allocations from their annual Constituency funding then more Solomon Islanders will become literate and be able to make informed decisions and look after themselves.
“Reading and learning are the keys to development, to a rise in production, and a decrease in domestic violence. People study about how to do things differently, better and easier. People learn about their rights and responsibilities under the law. Literacy is the way forward to a better life.
“Mothers learning to read become teachers to their children and this supports public education and really helps the schools to form a partnership with parents.
“Libraries are created in villages when books come in and these can be a room in an already existing center, to a room in the church building or even a house in the community that has a space to put in shelves. The community members decide who the librarians will be and then READ SI and LASI can help show them what to do and how books can be checked out to village members and collected.
“True development takes place when people are empowered to make their own decisions based on information they can get from reading books, documents, brochures and so forth,” Mrs Boykins emphasized.
She said the two NGOs have been doing their utmost best in trying to raise the country’s literacy rate through funding from abroad and therefore any further funding intervention from the Government or MPs would greatly help in reaching out to more Solomon Islanders.
In accepting the invitation to be a Literacy Champion for Solomon Islands, Prime Minister Sogavare said he is committed to the initiative of raising literacy and promised an annual allocation of $200,000.00 from his East Choiseul Constituency funds to LASI and READ SI to conduct literacy awareness meetings and literacy trainings as well as to purchase books for soon- to- be created libraries in the constituency.
Furthermore, he committed the Government to assist the two NGOs in reaching more people throughout the country and turning the nation around to become a country with a strong ‘culture of learning.’
The Prime Minister said he will discuss the issue of community literacy classes and materials for reading at the grassroots level with his Cabinet and also encourage greater government participation in this endeavor.