Tuesday 8th September is the International Literacy Day. The theme for 2020 International Literacy Day is “Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond”.
Congratulations to those who one way or the other participated in activities commemorating this important day and best wishes to those who have deferrals in their programs.
This is a time to reflect on our journey together as family, friends and partners committed to promote the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society.
We all should be proud of ourselves in the work that we do because helping someone to read and write effectively or acquire the basic math skills improves the future of everyone in society. Literacy is critical to economic development as well as individual and community well-being.
The 2016 theme for International Women’s Day is “Pledge for Parity”, a call to step up progress towards achieving gender parity quickly in all areas.
In 2014, the World Economic Forum predicted that it would take almost 80 years (2095) to achieve global gender parity, but realized a year later that efforts to achieve gender parity have slowed, meaning that the gender gap wouldn’t close entirely until 2133, a hundred years later.
Improving women and girls education is a strategic investment with development rippling from self to family to community and to the wider society. Girl’s education contributes to healthy families, delayed marriage, economic empowerment and national economic development.
Education is a human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international conventions such as the MDGs and Education for All (EFA) goals. Even more importantly, it is a Constitutional Right.
Our National Constitution’s First National Goal and Directive Principle: ‘Integral Human Development’ embraces ‘Education for All’ and that every child and every citizen to be engaged in personal Integral Human Development in relations with others.
In relation to particular Education for All (EFA) Goals, the Global Monitoring Report found that
PNG is one of 30 countries ‘at serious risk’ of not achieving the adult literacy target by 2015 because very low literacy rates are not increasing fast enough and
PNG is one of 24 countries ‘at risk’ of not achieving the gender parity goal either at primary or secondary school by the year 2015.
Today, PNG is on track with global targets on girl’s education and gender equality with more girls in school. The Government’s 2016 budget has brought the Education budget to 11% closer to the global goal of 20% agreeing to the EFA declaration.
However, there has been an imbalance in the education of Papua New Guineans. The past 20 years has seen total neglect in educating adults and out-of-school youth who makes up the bulk of our population. It is therefore imperative that as we embark on the sustainable development strategy, it must begin with a literate population who are self-reliant and can independently make choices for their lives and communities.
The National literacy status as self-declared by PNG is at 56.4% however, studies done by Papua New Guinea Education and Advocacy Network (PEAN) in six provinces show that the literacy rates are lower at 41% or just over 3 million people.
The PNG Education Advocacy Network argues that Adult Literacy remains the missing link between the work of civil societies and overall government plans.
A key recommendation to addressing the many challenges highlighted in provinces is the inclusion of literacy programs in district plans and budgets.
Adequate political will and Government inclusion of the needs of adults to be literate is not articulated in the mid-term or the long term development goals of PNG. Strengthening coordination and increased accountability and transparency by the non-state actors to the Government could contribute towards effective, efficient, and sustainable delivery of Adult Literacy programs. On the other hand, the Government’s incapacity to effectively coordinate with literacy service providers, gathering literacy qualitative and quantitative data, and plan with the Adult Literacy Providers has resulted in leaving the work of Adult literacy solely to Non State Actors.
These informal systems without adequate support from the government has further led to inadequate funding for the literacy work thus affecting their livelihood and the health of our societies.
The UN’s appeal to ‘Leave no one behind” in the new development agenda, seems far from been achieved in PNG. In 2015 alone, a staggering 202,400 children sat for the Grade 8, 10 and 12 national exams with a small fraction advancing to the next level of education, leaving over a hundred thousand young and productive population disillusioned and added to the pool of illiterates and unemployed.
Gender parity can be achieved when we focus on building the capacities of adult literacy programs at district and local levels to up skill, empower, and build communities from the bottom up.
So let’s take a pledge for adult literacy. It is a sector that embraces men, women, young people and children as young as 3 years, who have a desire to learn, as equal. Interestingly, it is this enlightening of equality that permeates into individuals, families and communities. Men who become literate become advocates for Women’s Rights and Agents of Change for Gender Equality.
Education 2030 calls for a holistic approach in Education
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS 2030
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an inter-governmental commitment and “a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity”. It comprises 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are “integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental”; and demonstrate the scale and ambition of the new universal Agenda.1 They result from what is arguably the most inclusive process of consultation in the history of the United Nations, reflecting substantive input from all sectors of society, all actors of the international community and all parts of the world. All Member States, the entire UN system, experts and a cross-section of civil society, business and, most importantly, millions of people from all corners of the globe, have committed themselves to this comprehensive agenda seeking to address globally-shared concerns and to promote the public good.
EDUCATION IN THE 2030 AGENDA
Sustainable Development Goal 4: Education is central to the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Within the comprehensive 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, education is essentially articulated as a stand-alone goal (SDG 4) with its 7 outcome targets and 3 means of implementation.
Education-related targets across the SDGs: Education in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is not restricted to SDG 4. Education, is specifically mentioned in targets of the five goals listed below, but also linked to almost all of the other SDGs in one way or another: SDG 3: Health and Well-being Target 3.7: By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes
SDG5: Gender Equality Target 5.6: Number of countries with laws and regulations that guarantee women aged 15-49 years access to sexual and reproductive health care, information and education
SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth Target 8.6: By 2020 substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training
SDG12:Responsible Consumption & Production Target 12.8: By 2030 ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature
SDG13:Climate Change Mitigation Target 13.3: Improve education, awareness raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning
EDUCATION 2030 UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES
1. Education is a fundamental human right and an enabling right. To fulfill this right, countries must ensure universal equal access to inclusive and equitable quality education and learning, leaving no one behind. Education shall aim at the full development of the human personality and promote mutual understanding, tolerance, friendship and peace. 2. Education is a public good. The state is the main duty-bearer in protecting, respecting, and fulfilling the right to education. As a shared societal endeavour, education implies an inclusive process of public policy formulation and implementation2. Civil society, teachers and educators, the private sector, communities, families, youth and children all have important roles in realizing the right to quality education. The role of the state is essential in setting and regulating standards and norms. 3. Gender equality is inextricably linked to the right to education for all. Achieving gender equality requires a rights-based approach that ensures that girls and boys, women and men not only gain access to and complete education cycles, but are empowered equally in and through education.
KEY FEATURES OF SDG4-EDUCATION2030
A universal agenda for all countries: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is framed by 5 key objectives: (1) People – to end poverty and hunger; (2) Planet – to protect the planet from degradation (3) Prosperity – to ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives (4) Peace – to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies and (5) Partnership – to mobilize the means required to implement this Agenda through a revitalised Global Partnership for Sustainable Development. The concern for sustainable development and its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – is at the heart of the 2030 global development agenda. This globally shared concern for sustainability implies a universal agenda relevant to all societies regardless of income and/or development status. This can be understood as a universality of principles (human rights), universality of reach (focus on equity and inclusion), and universality of country coverage.
ORGANIZATION: Papua New Guinea Education Advocacy Network (PEAN)
SUB-SECTOR: Lifelong Learning (SDG4)
Financing adult literacy in Papua New Guinea has been the lowest of all priorities in the past fifteen years under the millennium development and EFA goals. Adult Literacy, although is established all over the country through civil society organizations, faith-based and community-based have all been managed out of the pockets of the civilians. Government has not declared financing assistance in this sub-sector. The Department’s coordinating arm of adult literacy the National Literacy Awareness Secretariat (NLAS) is limited and therefore not coordinated literacy in the non-formal education; however, funding has always been the issue for this division. Adult literacy program is equally important due to its accessibility, inclusiveness, timely delivery and strong community presence. Funding adult literacy is mandated by the development partners to be 6% of the national education budget. Realising the potential in adult literacy and its contribution to national development in United States, Germany and South Africa, and the fact that some countries have formalized holistic education framework has contributed to progressive and ongoing educational opportunities, hence the lifelong learning concept instead of adult literacy attributed to policy bias.
The National Census in 2000 which is the baseline for literacy statistics revealed that PNG has one of the lowest literacy rates among its Pacific neighbours. But while many may argue that adult literacy was an insignificant contributor of literacy statistics, the correlation between formal and informal literacy was sufficiently represented. PEAN research findings confirmed that literacy crisis was right across both informal and formal learning and included school-aged youths who were functionally illiterate. This is further consolidated by a number of young people who leave school and do not make a living after they have completed their basic education. The UNSDG4 calls for quality education and lifelong learning as key to transformative and mutual actions’ for achieving the targets. Since the millennium development and EFA goals implementation, civil society has never been a part of the education budget sharing nor decision making. The globally agreed target for adult literacy (now lifelong learning) was 20% of national budget, out of which 6% is allocated to adult literacy. PEAN is concerned that lifelong learning will suffer the same budget constraints if the Government continue to focus on financing 8% (2016 budget). Lifelong Learning is not implemented at classroom level as it is believed to be curricula activities outside of the classroom coupled with trade skills (formal TVET) or soft skills (informal TVET) also employable skills.
PEAN believes that the 2016 budget of 8% unlike 11% in 2015 is still below the globally agreed target. PNG as a member of the United Nations signed and agreed to fund 20% of the national budget for education. The 20% funding will give the Department of Education K2.8 billion annually. The priority for the Government on integral human development will make a big difference; however, Government priority Pillar 1 is ‘economic’. While proponents of this pillar argue that money will sustain human lives, however, illiterate population will never be able to make financial decisions. They are prone to aid corruption and mismanagement due to ignorance. PEAN believes that this annually allocated budget to the Department of Education will result in 6% of the finance given to adult literacy activities around the country at a cost of K168 million. This is sufficient funds to enable and enhance adult literacy programs and skills training given the sound financial management and monitoring systems of civil society organizations. PEAN believes that the Government can raise K2.8billion to address quality education and lifelong learning for all Papua New Guineans.
PEAN commends Anglicare PNG for being the leading organization in Providing Adult Literacy programs and Life Skills serving the marginalized population in PNG. During her speach she highlighted the following.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG) 4 aims “to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. The target is that by 2030, all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women achieve literacy and numeracy (SDG Target 4.6). While appreciating UNSDG on Education Goal 4 and its priority in promoting lifelong learning, the interpretation and translation of this concept at country level is a hurdle for policy makers. Defining education goals at the national level is necessary as different interpretations contributed to the education goal from different national context and languages leading to its adoption. In implementing the millennium development goals/EFA, adult literacy has been the most neglected in the past fifteen years due to various assumptions at policy levels. The opponents of this sub-sector know too well that educated parents encourage their children to remain in school; hence retention and attaining gender parity can be complemented by recognizing this sub-sector, yet they have assumed that educating adults is a waste of resources. The SDG4 is a driver for global citizenship by 2030, and this poses a huge challenge for PNG if the world is financially and ICT driven while we continue to struggle because of policy biases that create barriers for learning.
Ms. Kare pointed out that Papua New Guinea has too many policies that remain to be translated into results. She said The word ‘literacy’ is well captured in some of the policies but lack specificity. In the Medium Term Development Plan which preceded the current plan, literacy was articulated but only in formal schools. The National Education Plan 2010-2019 has made mention of adult literacy yet this sub-sector remain the lowest of priority in policy and financing. The PNG Vision 2050 Pillar 1 is not friendly to adult literacy despite the fact that majority people are rural-based, and are confronted with globalization issues of climate change, land mobilization, trade and resource development, environmental degradation, disaster management and food security including poverty and diseases. The SDG4 is therefore a welcome reminder to policy makers to revisit adult literacy, an area that has potential to complement the education indicators and address service delivery priority of the Government. The adult literacy is not confined to ‘women-only club’ as some opponents argue, nor is it limited to old people; more findings show that it is as inclusive as possible, accommodating for early learners, youth and adults. Adult literacy is not only about reading and writing as some policy specialists think it to be insignificant; it satisfies the desire to go further and build confidence for many of the learners regardless of age and sex.
She further highlighted that PEAN joined the Global Education Community during the post 2015 discussions leading up to the World Education Forum (Korea, 2015) to voice our concern on the lack of recognition of adult literacy. She said PEAN firmly believe from evidence across the country that adult literacy is an opportunity for community education , information and service delivery hub for the local and district level governments. However, PEAN acknowledges that in order for adult literacy to make this difference, lifelong learning in SDG 4 need to be defined in the policy and must be contextualized at the national level to achieve specific target 4.6. She said PEAN knows from past experience that ‘lifelong learning’ may become another policy hurdle, hence a barrier to realise the potential it may have on the national education system in the country. (C1) Quality education and lifelong learning in the PNG Education System must complement each other as this is “key transformative and mutually reinforcing actions” (UN SG Report July 2013) to realize SDG4 and its targets. It is in the best interest of the Government to be in the top 50 countries in the HDI and to arrive at smart, healthy, wealthy and wise Papua New Guinea thirty-six years from today.
Ms. Kare also pointed out that Lessons learnt in the past 15 years left ‘unfinished businesses’ in education, contributed partly by lack of policy and financing support. In addition, the possible negative attitudes of policy makers in implementing adult literacy because they assumed that adult literacy learners were ‘women-only’ club, adults-only program and the possible attitude that it is insignificant compared to formal literacy, show that literacy in schools are still at crisis level. PEAN believes that the recognition of adult literacy programs with policy support and financing will improve the literacy crisis, gender parity, retention of students and the general quality education. Furthermore, it will enable parents to get more interested in school management issues to eliminate cheating and teachers with attitude problems. This been said, PEAN continue to articulate to expand on the Review of the National Adult Literacy Policy to be known as the National Lifelong Learning Policy and Financing of this Policy while urging the Department of Education to define lifelong learning that is tailored to national context to improve education indicators and targets in SDG4.
Ms. Kare than made a call for the National Government through the Department of education align its plans and policies with SDG4 targets and indicators. she also said, Life Long Learning must be the new approach to addressing ADULT LITERACY and must be included in the Policies.