LEARNING to read and write is the single most important education milestone for a child, Australian High Commission’s Minister Councillor, Development Cooperation, James Hall said.
Hall made that remark during the opening of a recent Literacy Conference of the Reading Association of Papua New Guinea.
He said there was a crucial need to raise literacy and numeracy rates in Papua New Guinea.
“Australia is committed to helping PNG address many of the challenges of reading and writing that you will discuss over the coming two days,” he said.
“Being able to effectively use and produce written material to gain or transmit knowledge is the fundamental stepping stone for further education.
“Many children cannot read or write and this has severe consequences.”
He said a child who underperformed in reading and writing would have problems performing in other subjects.
“He or she is more likely to fail and abandon school early,” Hall said.
He said they would not have the minimum necessary skills to find gainful employment and were more likely to be unemployed.
“They are more likely to have problems with the law and poor health.”
He said the consequences of illiteracy were more expensive than the cost of ensuring that their children become effective readers and writers.
“In 2012, a survey found that only 18.1 per cent of the girls and boys in PNG were reading and writing at the expected level,” Hall said.
“This means that of the 157,000 students currently enrolled in Grade 5, only 28,400 are proficient readers.
“For girls, reading figures are even worse.”
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