(Statement by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security)
On marking the occasion of International Literacy Day (ILD) on September 8, 2021, the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security is cognisant of the fundamental importance of literacy as a matter of basic human rights and the significance of advancing the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society.
In keeping with this year’s theme, being “Literacy for a human-centered recovery: Narrowing the digital divide,” the ministry, through its programmes, has been paying particular attention to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on our population and how digital access has become interwoven with literacy due to the rapid transition to digital platforms and online learning.
In a timely and practical move by subject minister, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, the Women’s Innovation and Investment Network (WIIN) programme was recently launched to contribute towards the advancement of digital skills development.
Various courses, including those on Information and Communications Technology (ICT), have been rolled out both online and in-person from the newly established modern computer lab at the Guyana Women’s Leadership Institute (GWLI) at Cove and John, East Coast Demerara.
A free WIIN App was also launched to link women from all across the country, allowing them to promote their businesses and garner support from local and international markets.
“The WIIN programme comprehensively tackles and enables mechanisms that provide women and youth with the tools of learning, upskilling, marketing and networking and are key to their recovery from the impact of the pandemic,” Minister Persaud has stated.
“In this, I recognise the importance to link functional literacy to the knowledge of ICT as a sure way of promoting a progressive approach to economic and social independence. To ignore those who miss out on life changing opportunities because of poor literacy is to deprive our nation of its fullest potential for overall growth. Today, share a good book that you read with someone,” she continued.
So far, thousands of women and girls have registered with WIIN and hundreds have already completed their courses. Minister Persaud has undertaken to have the remaining persons trained before the end of this year.
This transition to digital platforms has further exposed the pre-existing digital divide especially for low income families, single parent women, and persons residing in remote locations who lack access to basic digital infrastructure, devices, internet connectivity and digital skills needed for online education.
Addressing the gender digital divide is critical to our COVID-19 recovery efforts since advancing women’s digital connectivity enhances their economic empowerment, builds prosperity and increases household stability during crisis.
The advantages of literacy, combined with digital connectivity, can empower vulnerable women economically and socially.
As the ministry wishes everyone a Happy International Literacy Day, persons are encouraged to take full advantage of the provisions that government has made available.