Professor Wole Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, has kick started the Commonwealth literacy campaign dubbed ‘Get Ghana Reading’ in Accra last week.
Reading one of his famous poems ‘Telephone Conversation’ to students and teachers at the La Wireless Cluster of Schools, Professor Soyinka took the opportunity to reiterate the importance of literacy to humanity and development. Students were eager to ask the Nobel Laureate how they could be like him. ‘Don’t seek to be like me. Be yourself. Apply yourself to your studies, learn everything you can and one day, you will be who you are meant to be’ , he responded, to one eager student.
Gideon Commey, the Commonwealth Youth Organizer, in his opening remarks quoted Nelson Mandela’s ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world’.
Echoing the sentiments of the Commonwealth Youth organizer, Dr. Mary Ashun, the Acting Principal of Ghana International School (GIS), who also donated books to the La Wireless Cluster of Schools stated that it was incumbent upon teachers to ensure that ‘children had the freedom to BE’. Speaking specifically to the teachers gathered, she stressed the importance of never belittling a child’s dream and urged them (teachers) as frontliners to lead by example; ‘students must see you reading too!’
The Hon. Rita Odoley Sowah, Chief Executive, LA Dade Kotopon Municipal Assembly, was immensely grateful for the honour of having Prof. Soyinka at the school. She encouraged the children to press on with their studies so that the next time they received a visit from the Professor, they would be able to show how accomplished they had become in reading.
On his part, Mr. John Apea, The Regional Director of the Commonwealth Africa Office emphasized the importance of literacy to development – ‘Literacy should not be a luxury – it is a fundamental right; it eradicates poverty, promotes participation and delivers real social and economic change’.
The ‘Get Ghana Reading’ campaign will officially begin at the beginning of the new school term in September 2015.
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