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Adult illiteracy worries Parliament

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Members of Parliament (MPs) have expressed worry over high adult illiteracy rates in the country which, they argue, result in slowed socio-economic growth.

According to the Ministry of Civic Education and Community Development, on average, about 125,000 adult learners are assessed every year, out of whom about 76 percent are declared literate.

Yesterday, minister responsible, Grace Chiumia, delivered a statement in Parliament on the status of adult literacy services in the country.

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Chiumia admitted that there are several challenges rocking the programme. She said there is no adult literacy policy which could guide relevant operations.

She outlined several challenges, including that of the growth of the population of illiterate adults due to school dropouts in the formal education system, which exerts pressure on the adult literacy programme.

“Inadequate post-literacy services make those who were declared literate to relapse into illiteracy. Most stakeholders do not understand the functionality of adult literacy,” Chiumia said.

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She also pointed at the issue of inadequate resources given to the adult literacy programme as another challenge.

Chiumia said, of the resources that are given, 75 percent goes towards the acquisition of teaching and learning materials which are also not adequate in the centres.

“There is also low attendance by males in adult literacy classes and lack of instructor trainings as funds are not adequate,” she said.

But Chiumia was quick to say the government has revised the honoraria for instructors so as to motivate them.

In his contribution to the statement, Ntchisi North MP, Boniface Kadzamira, argued that, due to low adult literacy levels, many people, particularly those in rural areas, are being duped by tricksters.

“Additionally, people are being arrested by the police in cases which are civil in nature simply because they are illiterate. There are also some fake non-governmental organisations that are swindling people in villages by taking advantage of their low literacy levels,” Kadzamira said.

In her response, Chiumia said her ministry is working with other ministries and agencies to sensitise people on how they can avoid being fleeced and know more about their rights.

In another development, Parliament Tuesday adjourned early again, about an hour before the official adjournment time of 17:00, apparently because the business for the day had been exhausted.

Last week, the august House also adjourned early on two occasions on similar grounds.

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