The Jakarta Post
More than just about reading, writing and speaking; literacy was also a tool for negotiating successfully in the regional, national and international levels. (Shutterstock/Billion Photos)
Nagekeo regency on Flores Island, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), will host the province’s first literacy festival on Sept. 27-30, with 23 regencies and cities participating.
Nagekeo Regent Johanes Don Bosco Do underlined that literacy was not just about reading, writing and speaking; it was also a tool for negotiating successfully in the regional, national and international levels.
“Literacy is a tool needed to optimize the various potential we have to revive NTT, to change Nagekeo,” Johanes told The Jakarta Post on the phone earlier this week.
He said the literacy festival that he and his deputy regent had initiated had received support from various ministries and government institutions. He said the event was a way of introducing Nagekeo to a wider audience.
“We want to ask for the central government’s commitment and attention to help us build the regency, which has only existed for a few years, to overcome all its limitations,” he said.
The festival, he added, would be a shared stage for Nagekeo and other NTT people to maintain its richness in local culture and survive marginalization. It also aims to fight the stereotype that often labels the regency as a poor and underdeveloped one.
Slated to run for five days, the festival also has the mission to promote the legacies of the Nagekeo hinterland community’s ancestors, including esu kose (traditional method of cooking rice in earthenware). The legacy is still well preserved in Woedoa village.
“One thousand women are ready to carry 1,000 esu kose pots on their heads. This is a legacy of Nagekeo’s ancestors that we are reviving,” the regent said.
Meanwhile, lecturer Lasarus Jehamat from Nusa Cendana University (Undana) said NTT had a strong oral and speech culture, as well as a so-called audiovisual culture, which meant there was less motivation to read or write and explained the province’s low literacy rate.
Lasarus said the NTT people could improve their literacy by starting from home, such as accompanying bedtime stories with written storytelling.
Furthermore, on the social level, a tradition of writing has to be implemented, and the provincial administration should include storytelling and writing as compulsory subjects at local schools.
Lasarus went on to say that he had been inspired by a quote from the late author Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who said that people could be clever and knowledgeable, but as long as they didn’t write, they would vanish in history. Writing is working for eternity, he said. (yun/mut)