12 September 2007

Africa: Education Minister Defends Contribution of Literacy to Health in Africa

Luanda — Angola's Education minister, Burity da Silva, on Tuesday in Bamako, Mali, said the fight against illiteracy in the continent should enable the development of capabilities for the promotion of preventive medicine.

According to Burity da Silva, who was speaking at the first Regional Conference on Literacy, primary health matters are still a great challenge, thus the development of integrated programmes of education for family life and citizenship are fundamental and should deserve all priority in literacy activities. At the meeting, which started last Monday, Burity da Silva said that the current national strategy for re-launching of literacy campaigns and recovery of educational backwardness reserve a special attention to matters linked to health primary care, personal hygiene and environment.

The minister explained that endemic diseases and mainly those ones affecting infant-maternal health, as well as HIV/Aids are also included in the national strategy for re-launching the literacy programme and recovery of educational backwardness. He added that the strategy, inserted in the National Plan of Education for All (EPT), aims at materializing Dakar's goals, through the diversification of educative supply, as well as the combined materialization of academic and professional training programmes.

Burity da Silva explained that the new methodological proposal for the recovery of educational backwardness has a modular organisation of programmatic contents to enable a rapid learning. "We seek to combine presence learning, semi-presence learning and distance learning", he said adding that "we intend to promote self-teaching, through competence certification acquired in various learning contexts, namely formal, non-formal and informal. In this context, he said the Ministry of Education started using in 2007 the communication and information technologies, diversifying the modalities of teaching and as a strong ally in the fight against illiteracy in the country.

According to him, if the country keeps the current rate of annual literacy growth, estimated at 2.5 per cent, it may before accomplish, before 2015, the millennium development goals and, consequently the Dakar goals.

For this reason, Burity da Silva said that the combination between the programme of fight against illiteracy and recovery of educational backwardness is very important for the success of the campaigns and literacy promotion, as illiteracy rate for Angolan citizens aged under 18 is still high. Official data point that the current illiteracy rate for men, in Angola, is estimated at 67 per cent against 54 for women.

Meanwhile, Wednesday, participants in the mentioned meeting will debate policies and strategies for the inclusion of illiteracy programmes in the education sector and importance of literacy in the promotion of health prevention against HIV/Aids.

The meeting, being held under the theme "Literacy, a key to health and well-being", was opened by Mali's President, Amadou Toumani Toure, and is taking place in the ambit of the second decade of education for all, whose timescale is 2015 and serves to Re-launch literacy campaigns.

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