Being literate means being able to contribute on a personal, community and national level. It enables people to communicate and express themselves effectively, to further educate themselves and provide economically for their families.
International Literacy Day is an annual initiative from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), celebrated on the September 8.
Its purpose is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.
Education secretary Danielle Cochrane said the focus for this year is on literacy teaching and learning in the Covid-19 crisis and beyond with a focus on the role of educators and changing pedagogies.
Online teaching and learning are now influencing how education is being delivered, with many schools across the world still being impacted with school closures.
Cochrane said while the earlier than anticipated school holidays for Cook Islands students disrupted learning for a short while, they are grateful that schools remain open with learning continuing.
“Despite this however, our teachers and schools remain prepared if our situation was to change. Many schools continue to deliver learning by utilising online platforms while in the classroom,” she said.
“Our students are certainly building up their IT literacy skills along with their reading and writing skill sets.”
The Cook Islands Ministry of Education is working closely with all schools and have allocated this week, September 7-11 for Literacy Week.
Learning and Teaching director Jane Taurarii said schools have set programmes and activities for students to participate in such as dressing up as a favourite book character, reading stories to younger children, creating class displays, completing reading logs and story-telling, to name a few.
Children are involved in all aspects of literacy – reading, writing, listening and speaking, she said.
“They are working in groups and independently, showcasing what they have learned and the enjoyment they get from the written and spoken word,” Taurarii said.
Schools can also reach out to their own communities to join their programme.
Taurariii said literacy is one of the basic human rights and is celebrated throughout the week in books, song, dance, drama and stories in Maori and English languages.
“Reading to and with your children and grandchildren at home or in the classroom is a wonderful way to promote language, culture and relationships. Singing songs, rhymes and chants helps to reinforce the patterns and rhythms of language and again promotes culture,” she said.
“Writing simple stories or poems about the local environment supports the relationship between the spoken and written word.
“Please take the time to visit your local school, to find out how they are celebrating Literacy Week in your community.”