•Narok County, which is hosts this year’s national celebrations had a literacy level of about 56.3% in 2022.
•The feast will focus on this year’s theme “Promoting Literacy for a Sustainable and Peaceful Kenyan Society”.
Kenya joins the global world in celebrating the 57th International Literacy Day (ILD) on Friday looking back at great progress made in increasing the number of Kenyans who can read and write over the years.
Latest World Bank data place the adult literacy rate in Kenya by 2021 for people aged 15 years and above at 82.62%. It means that about 17.38% of the Kenyan population in the above age cohort is still illiterate providing pointers to where efforts of all stakeholders should focus as we seek to stamp out illiteracy.
September 8 of every year therefore provides an opportunity to reflect on the role of literacy in building more inclusive, peaceful, just, and sustainable societies. Literary empowers people and improves their self-esteem, creativity, and critical thinking.
It enables them to acquire knowledge, skills, attitude, and values required to thrive in our rapidly changing society and economy. Besides, literacy contributes not only to generating personal benefits, such as better well-being and economic conditions, but also social, economic, political cultural, and environmental aspects.
The literacy programmes the country has put in place for children, and youth and adults — who missed out or lost the skills for whatever reasons — help enhance democratic values, peaceful coexistence, and community solidarity.
Embedded in adult and continuing education programmes is the knowledge, skills and attitudes critical to creating and maintaining harmonious existence. It has potential to help communities especially the conflict prone communities regions of Kenya due to the scramble for scarce resources, cattle rustling among others has enabled them to embrace peaceful co-existence.
The State Department for Basic Education, provides adult basic literacy, post literacy, continuing education and empowerment programmes. These programmes provide functional knowledge and skills on issues related to day activities of learners.
It also provides primary and secondary continuing education programmes to accord an opportunity to those who, for whatever reasons, dropped out of school before completing the basic education to continue and sit for their KCPE or KCSE as the case may be.
Regrettably, however, at least one out of seven youth and adults aged 15 years and above worldwide, equivalent to 773 million, still lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. In addition, a significant number of children, including those who are enrolled in school, are not acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills, while 244 million children and young people between the ages of 6 and 18 are not enrolled in school.
Narok County, which hosts this year’s national celebrations had a literacy level of about 56.3% in 2022. This implies that 43.7% constituting of about 174,605 persons aged 18 years and above are illiterate while approximately 40,247 children of school-going age (6-17 years) have never been to school.
Although enrolled in school, some 149,044 persons aged 18 years in the County dropped out of school before completing basic education.In spite of the large number of illiterates in the County, there are only 74 adult learning centres with a paltry 2,866 enrolled learners in the centres of which 1,041 are male while 1,825 female. These learners are aged between 16 to 76 years of age.
Out of the enrolled these, 43 have registered for KCPE 2023 and 15 registered for KCSE 2023. The situation calls for concerted efforts to provide education to these pockets of illiterate population not only in Narok County but also in the entire Country.
To enhance provision of adult education programmes in the county, the Directorate has partnered with ForumCiV, which has engaged 14 adult education instructors in Narok East Sub-County.
Kenya joins the world in celebrating National International Literacy Day on 8th September, 2023 in Narok County to recognize advancements it has made in attainment of literacy and foster a more literate society. Being a national celebration, it is expected that the day will bring together people from all walks of live including policymakers, practitioners, development partners, youth, and individuals.
The feast will focus on this year’s theme “Promoting Literacy for a Sustainable and Peaceful Kenyan Society”. The government, together with the citizens and other stakeholders will use the day to among others: raise awareness on literacy promotion and its place in empowering people to cope with and manage their lives; share relevant knowledge, experiences, and solutions for appreciating the power of literacy towards more sustainable and peaceful societies and forge cooperation and partnerships for promoting literacy.
The day will be preceded by week long activities dubbed “Learners’ week’ where an array of activities related to literacy will be carried out.
Dr Kipsang is the Principal Secretary for Basic Education