Literacy from an unlikely place

Education is a basic human right and the foundation on which to build peace and drive sustainable development.

Education is covered under goal 4 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: “ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning” and is key to the achievement of the other goals. Inclusion is a key aspect of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda, with the pledge that ’no one will be left behind’.

This focus on equity in education and lifelong learning must lead to a renewed and strengthened commitment to support literacy promotion for all worldwide.

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Literacy is defined as one’s ability to read with understanding and to write meaningfully in any language. In the aftermath of independence from colonial domination for many countries in 1966, literacy was emphasised as both a way to achieve personal and political liberation and as a tool for development. Since then, the 8th of September was marked as International Literacy day - a day that is celebrated annually worldwide. This day shines a spotlight on global literacy needs and we celebrate the power of literacy worldwide. Every year since 1966, it has been an occasion to honour those governments, civil society organisations and individuals who made significant contributions to literacy in every part of the world.

As the international community moves on beyond 51 years of past action in literacy and looks to ’Literacy in a digital world’ - even with the revolution of technology - it is still a challenge to administer classes due to the illiteracy rates in the world; most especially computer illiteracy. Each student learns differently and in today’s era of increasing technology, the question will not be whether to offer classes online but rather how to implement them.

African Prisons Project (APP) joins in to celebrate this day and also mark a milestone for one of our students, Pascal Kakuru who will be graduating, making him the first inmate in the history of Uganda Prisons Service to graduate with an LLB. We cannot say that it was an easy journey for him, attaining a law degree behind prison walls without access to internet, yet studying a law course by correspondence with the University of London which is fully an online self-study course i.e. a digital course.


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“I am humbled to APP, they have given me a treasure I didn’t think I will ever receive in life and that is education. I will use this very gift to give back to my community and support my peers pursuing the same course. I am not only the first inmate to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in law from prison but I am also the first graduate in my family. I believe I am going to be an inspiration to my family children and community.”
–Pascal Kakuru

With no boundaries or limitation, the only thing that can make one a diamond from coal is education. As we commemorate today’s celebrations, we celebrate our students who have excelled in the recent academic year amidst a number of challenges and the environment they are studying from.


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