The Jakarta Post
The “multiplier effects” of literacy help to empowerpeople, enabling them to participate fully in society and improve their livelihoods.
UNESCO has reported at least 750 million youth and adults still cannot read and write and 250 million children are failing to acquire basic literacy skills.
Indonesia’s efforts to lower illiteracy rates have yielded encouraging results. According to a 2019 National Socio-Economic Survey (SUSENAS) by Statistics Indonesia (BPS), there has been a significant decline in the number of illiterate people, from 4.63 percent of the population in 2011 to 1.78 percent in 2019.
Jumeri, the Education and Culture Ministry’s early childhood, basic and secondary education director general, has confirmed the increase in Indonesia’s literacy rate.
“The illiteracy rate in Indonesia continues to drop every year along with the implementation of various innovative strategies that respond to the learning needs of society,” said Jumeri during a talk show on education to celebrate International Literacy Day, known in Indonesia as Hari Aksara Internasional (HAI).
The talk show was held virtually on Friday, Sept. 4.
The Education and Culture Ministry’s literacy programsare in line with the global campaign run by UNESCO, which declared Sept. 8 as International Literacy Day.
According to Jumeri, the 55th HAI carried the the theme “Teaching and Learning Literacy in the Time of COVID-19: Opportunity for a Paradigm Shift in Education”,and had a particular focus on the role of educators and changing pedagogies.
While literacy programs in recent years have focused on under developed, frontier and outer most (3T) areas because these areas are difficult to reach, especially during the pandemic, the government hopes that this difficult time will encourage all stakeholders to improve their contribution to improving literacy.
The 3T areas of Indonesia deserve the most attention, therefore, collaboration between the central government and local administrations is needed for illiteracy to be eradicateda cross the entire country.
The theme of this year's HAI addresses the difficult circumstances brought about the pandemic, and serves to inspire the nation to care more about their fellow citizens in disadvantaged areas by providing them with access to information and more opportunities for development.
The Education and Culture Ministry’s director of community and special education, Samto, said the ministry was working to change the education development system.
“[These changes] aim to raise people’s awareness about the importance of literacy from the earliest stage [of education], so that equality of access to education can be easier to achieve,” said Samto.
Moreover, advancing literacy is an integral part of life long learning and is central to goal four in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal(SDG) agenda.
Responsible for coordinating international efforts to achieve this goal, UNESCO has taken several approaches, including building strong foundations through early childhood care and education, scaling up functional literacy levels for youths and adults and developing literate environments.
Back in Indonesia, the ministry has held several activities as part of the HAI commemorations.
For example, 10 “Serambi Literasi” (Literacy Platform) sessions were held every Friday evening from July 24 to Aug. 28, to discuss literacy development in local communities during the pandemic.
Furthermore, a Literacy Celebration Week was organized from Sept. 1 to 7, with activities including a photo and video exhibition and virtual discussion on literacy, as well as a workshop on managing community reading centers.
At the peak of the HAI celebrations, accolades will be given to those who have made significant contributions to improvingthe country’s literacy rate.
The awards to be given are as follow:
“The awards are expected to inspire more people and institutions to contribute to the eradication of illiteracy in Indonesia,” Jumeri said, adding that he was confident the award winners would continue contributing to the nation’s development.