Literacy for Peace
Published 8th September 2011, 9:37am
MESSAGE FROM THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION, TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT, ON INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY, Thursday 8 September, 2011 Today, 8 September, has been designated "International Literacy Day", by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This year's theme is "Literacy for Peace". As Minister for Education, Training and Employment, I join countries around the world in commemorating this day, and using it as a platform to highlight the importance of literacy. Within our school system, raising literacy standards is being given the highest priority. This is because the benefits of literacy are not limited to reading and writing skills, though both are of utmost importance. Literacy underpins a whole host of life-skills that not only help our students, but our society as a whole. Literature, for example, can be the vehicle through which students develop respect, responsibility and compassion. As our Year One students interact with UNESCO prize-winning author Kathryn Cave's book Something Else, they'll learn to be tolerant of others who may not play the same games, eat the same foods or draw the same pictures. While enjoying the story, they learn to empathise with the main character who is excluded. The ability to feel empathy for the story's character will hopefully impact upon the way the children interact with others. Through award-winning author Elizabeth Laird's Oranges in No Man's Land, a story set in civil-war-torn Lebanon, our Year Five students will learn about human kindness and compassion. The use of such quality literature in our schools will motivate students to seek and evaluate different perspectives, as well as grow from their experiences. Through technology the world has become more accessible. The Cayman Islands Government is mindful that our students are citizens of an international community. This citizenship entails certain rights and requires certain responsibilities. Within our educational system we are striving to produce well-informed students who are critical thinkers, respectful of differences and who understand that people can hold divergent beliefs that are equally valid. It is by fostering these beliefs in our young people that the peace we so desire will be within our grasp. It seems fitting, therefore, to conclude this message by sharing the challenge extended to all countries and education systems, by the Hague Appeal for Peace, Global Campaign for Peace Education: "A culture of peace will be achieved when citizens of the world understand global problems, have the skills to resolve conflicts and struggle for justice non-violently, live by international standards of human rights and equity, appreciate cultural diversity, and respect the Earth and each other. Such learning can only be achieved with systematic education for peace."