Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Importance and need of World Literacy Day in developing illiterate-free society

The International Literacy Day is celebrated on Friday the 8th of September. On 8th to 19th of September 1965, UNESCO organized a World Literacy Conference in Tehran. The International Literacy Day was proposed to be celebrated on 8th September every year. Later, on the 17th of November, 1965, UNESCO declared September 8 as the International Literacy Day. UNESCO celebrated the first day on 1966, even though International Literacy Day was being observed in Bangladesh since 1972. The theme of this year is 'Let us attain Literacy, let us build a Digital World'. Primary and Mass Education Minister said, according to the latest data from Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the current literacy rate of the country is 72.3, while according to the survey conducted by the Non-Governmental Development Organization’s literacy initiative (CAMP), this rate is 51.3 percent. The information gap between the primary and mass education minister's information and that of CAMP is 21 percent.

What is literacy?
The literal meaning of the word literacy is someone who knows his alphabets. Now normally, a literate person is one who can read, write and calculate. The literate can easily read and understand his mother tongue, and express himself in writing and speech, and carry out daily calculation. In the last fifty years, there have been many changes in the definition of being literate and literacy in Bangladesh. The first mention of 'literacy' in Bangladesh is seen in the government census in 1901. But the definition of literacy has evolved over time. In 1901, it was the ability to sign in one’s mother tongue. In 1951, it was the ability to read any sentence written in plain print letter in 1951. In 1961, the literate was one who could read and understand a language. In 1974, the person capable of reading and writing any language was considered as literate. In 1981, if he had the ability to write letters in any language, he was literate. In 1989, it was the ability to understand speech, have the ability to write it down and convey it, as well as compute and record daily proceedings. Although the definition of literacy was prevalent in the countries long ago, UNESCO first defined literacy in 1967. At one time, once someone could write his name, he was called literate, but now he had to fulfil three conditions to be called so. Firstly, the person who can read simple and short sentences in his own language; he can write simple and short sentences, and make simple calculations in everyday life. Each of these tasks will be related to the daily life of the person. Literacy rate is now calculated based on this definition in the world today. Although UNESCO gave this definition in 1993, but it is also facing challenges today. Now it is said that literacy is directly related to the change in the life of a person. At present, the scope of literacy is not limited only to mastering the practice and accounting. It also includes citizen issues such as computer literacy, financial literacy and cultural literacy, which are being recognized as the stairs to achieve essential quality skills, patriotism, social and moral values for the better life.

Literacy Day Objectives:
It is possible to establish peace among people through multiple uses of literacy. Its aim is to ensure peace not only through economic ability, but also through social, cultural and emotional development daily life, because literacy contributes to bringing peace and helping people achieve personal independence. Not only that, literacy also works to achieve a better understanding of the world. The one who can write and read will know what is happening outside the country and inside. This is a medium that helps in resolving conflicts and fostering resistance. Peace and communication are so much related to literacy that it becomes difficult to establish or maintain an atmosphere of literacy in unstable, non-democratic and conflict ridden countries. When we look at some countries in the African continent, where there is constant conflict between peace we see that the picture of literacy in these countries are not good. Basically, looking at them, we find a link between literacy and peace.

The importance of literacy in Islam:
International Literacy Day is very important in the eyes of Islam. That is why every man and woman of any age must acquire knowledge. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said that it is obligatory for every Muslim male and female to be educated. It is said about the importance of knowledge, 'you must seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.' From this, it is understood that there is no age for education; people of any age must seek knowledge.
The first revelation to reach the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) from Allah was education-related. Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was commanded to read. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was told, "(O Prophet) Read! In the name of your Lord Who has created you. '(Sura Alaq)

Not only the final Prophet, but Allah has kept all Prophets and messengers starting from Hazrat Adam (AS) associated with knowledge or education. Allah said, 'O Prophet! I have given you knowledge (education) which you did not even know, and your ancestors did not even know. '(Sura An'am: Verse 92)

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) never referred to himself as the head of state or commander. He announced the importance of building good character and fostering ideals; to emphasize the importance of education, he said - "Surely I have been sent as a teacher." In another hadith, he said, 'I have been sent to teach people good character.'
The final Prophet presented the fundamental principles of education in front of all mankind to form a well-educated nation. After receiving the Prophethood, he established an educational institute called 'Darul Arqam' near the Safa Hills of the holy city of Makkah, which is the first institute established by individual initiative in the history of the world.
In Medina, he continued his education activities in the Nababi mosque after the Hijrah, which continues to this day. In particular, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was busy with regular teaching in the mosque after the Asr prayers. The companions of the Prophet sat near the Prophet in the mosque to learn from him. Even for women, he arranged education separately.

There were 9 mosques in Medina during the lifetime of the Prophet. Education activities focused on the localities continued in every mosque, whereby welfare oriented educational activities were included alongside Hadith and Quran teaching. In summary, the role of the Prophet in the formation of a literate society was unrivalled. At present, the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad are present in mass-based mass education programs, where the impressionable young minds are acquainted with religious education as well as their own language and heritage easily.

UNESCO Target and Reality:
Literacy helps in the development of a person's economic, social and emotional well being, which will play a unique role in the peace process in all areas to influence the broader society. Literacy can work to bring peace from a smaller range to greater ranges, since about 780 million people of the world's adult population today do not know how to write and read. That is, there is an illiterate for every 5 adults. And 64 percent of this population are women. The picture is also alarming for children. Despite the slogan of ‘education for all’ announced by the United Nations, more than 70 million children in the world do not know how to read! Three-quarters of the world's total uneducated population live in 15 countries. The challenge lies in seeing whether UNESCO's 'Education for All' program will be successful enough so as to meet the goal of educating half of the vast population by 2015, it is now a big challenge. According to the Global Monitoring Report 2015, 10 recommendations are: 1. Importance of childhood care and education 2. Make everything necessary to enable all children to complete primary education. 3. Improve achievement among old and young people. 4. Enabling older people to gain knowledge of literacy and mathematics. 5. Laying emphasis on removing gender discrimination instead of emphasis on gender equality. 6. Investment for quality education. 7. Increase educational support and resources for the most marginalized populations. 8. Strengthen the importance of equality. 9. To improve monitoring, fill in the lack of important information. 10. Dealing with Coordination Challenges to maintain necessary political support for education

According to the latest survey of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), it was found that the literacy rate in the year 2015 was 64.06, in 2014 was 61.14, in 2013 was 61.04, in 2012 was 60.07, in 2011 was 58.08. Moreover, according to official information, there are currently 4.5 million elderly illiterate people in this country.

Napoleon Bonaparte said, "Give me an educated mother, I will give you a well-educated nation." And the more educated a nation is, the more developed it is. On the other hand, if one wants to destroy a nation, one can just just weaken its educational system. The higher the country's literacy rate, the higher the development. It is necessary to make human resources of the country through the education of deprived and illiterate children and adolescents. Therefore, to free the nation from the curse of illiteracy, it is necessary for everyone to come forward from their position. Illiteracy, hunger, poverty and corruption are like enemies. The weapon needed to kill this enemy is education and literacy. That's why we demand education for everyone. We want illiterate-free, educated and self-dependent modern Bangladesh. Let us work side by side and create an enlightened society for the sustainable development of the society and the country. Let us sow the dream of golden Bangladesh of the future.

Last word:
Illiteracy will move towards 100 percent literacy ahead of the country – let this be the oath of the International Literacy Day. Literacy is very important for a country. The relationship of education with literacy and literacy with development is closely related. An illiterate nation is a conscious nation. Thus, everyone should come forward to increase the literacy rate of Bangladesh. Only then will the demand for ‘education for all' be met. Celebrations of literacy day should not merely be for show. The real significance of this day lies in the development of meaningful and moral teachings in all respects.

Secretary General
Bangladesh Islami Chhatra Shibir