Literacy has evolved and so a 98 per cent rate from years ago no longer means what it used to, says public relations officer for the Barbados Association of Reading, Cheryl Williams.
“You have to remember that when the literacy rate in Barbados was first established, it was about the ability to sign your own name. Now, we are looking at a higher level of literacy so we should not rest on our laurels and let the 98 per cent make us complacent,” she said.
Williams was speaking to the SUNDAY SUN yesterday in the NATION’s car park before the start of the association’s annual celebrations for International Literacy Day, which falls tomorrow. This year the group hosted a float parade for the first time.
Williams said modern technology had also contributed to the changing nature of literacy but noted that there was still a place for paper and ink.
“For those brought up in the digital age, they are more likely to use a tablet to read and there is nothing wrong with that as digital media make publishing easier but for some, it will always be a pleasure to turn a page but literacy is dynamic,” she said.
Williams said that even though many people were not reading as many paper and ink books as before, she did not consider it a war between traditional books and new media as the two complemented each other.
However, she said it was up to adults to ensure literacy, in whatever form, remained a high priority lest it be lost.
“We should never be satisfied because if we don’t encourage literacy and encourage students who may have literacy issues, then they will digress. We always have to advocate literacy or we will lose the gains we have made,” she said.
The theme for International Literacy Day 2014 is Lift Off To Literacy. Williams said they usually took part in the Government celebrations in Queen’s Park, but that was not taking place this year so member Sandie-Field Kellman came up with the idea for a parade.
The parade was divided into four categories: Anansi And Aesop, We Culture, Fairy Tales and Literacy for the Future. It travelled from the NATION to Cave Shepherd, where balloons were released in honour of children around the world who are still fighting for the right to literacy, before ending in Queen’s Park. (CA)