Alexandria Slaven of Samoa penned the words “illiteracy kills dreams” in her winning letter for a Pacific Community (S.P.C) multimedia competition on why reading matters.
Miss Slaven, 11, is one of three winners announced yesterday by S.P.C to mark the 50th Anniversary of International Literacy Day.
“I love to read because it takes me places,” Miss Slaven wrote.
“We need to be obsessed as a nation to teach our children how to read, to minimize poverty and illiteracy. Let’s make the world a better place.”
The Poster category was taken by John Pettitt, 15, of Fiji who entered an A2 sized poster featuring Masi motifs and an array of colours with reasons as to why he reads. “It stimulates my mind, helps increase my knowledge and reduces my stress levels” were some reasons he stated.
The winning video was a group entry by school children who were part of a school holiday video project workshop at the Médiathèque municipale de Rivière –Salée from New Caledonia that highlighted the right of the readers.
S.P.C launched the competition to promote the benefits of literacy among Pacific children and youth following the release in June of the latest Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (P.I.L.N.A) which revealed cause for concern with literacy among Year 4 and Year 6 students.
In the assessment, which involved 45,000 students from some 700 schools in 13 countries, just 46% of Year 4 students and 46% of Year 6 students met or exceeded the regional literacy benchmark.
Young people were invited to share a story in the form of a letter, email, storybook, poster or video about how reading has helped them.
The Director of S.P.C’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme, Michelle Belisle, said the Pacific-wide competition drew attention and participation from Samoa, New Caledonia, Fiji, Kiribati and Tonga.
“The entries showcased how young people have an understanding of the importance of reading and how it contributes to their current well-being and its advantages as an avenue for further education and consequently employment,” Ms. Belisle said.
The latest P.I.L.N.A was coordinated by S.P.C in partnership with the New Zealand Aid Programme, and supported by Pacific Islands’ education ministries, teachers and parents.
Global celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day are being led by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (U.N.E.S.C.O), and highlight advances in literacy and its effects on everyday people.
Despite some areas of concern, the Pacific is making incremental advances in literacy, as shown in the PILNA report, Ms. Belisle said.