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Literacy is the ability to read and write, while illiteracy is the inability to read and write. Illiteracy also includes the ability to speak different languages and use a computer. Illiteracy is a worldwide problem that persists especially in developing countries such as Namibia specifically in the Kunene region.
Kunene is the home of the largest population of illiterates in Namibia and it is a region of strong traditional practice because it is house to Namibian’s indigenous groups such as the Ovahimba community, who are known to be nomadic residents of low literacy rate in the Kunene region. As a matter of fact, illiteracy is a dangerous phenomenon that freezes development. With the exception of illiterate, people are a real burden for the community, since they cannot contribute to its progress properly.
In essence, it is very harmful for both an individual and the society not being able to read and write.(http:www.daily-mail.co.zm). Illiteracy affects the daily lives of individuals and society in a negative way and their future is imperiled.
There will not be any value given to education in a family that is full of illiterates, which leads to poverty, as there will not be a large number of people who are employed or if there is, it is the lower quality jobs with low incomes. Due to this factor, there will be no money to provide the basic needs of the family. Working a low-quality job may also be harmful because it stresses people out affecting their sleeping cycle.
Low paying jobs lead to one borrowing money from individuals and sometimes this leads to the borrower not being able to pay back the money, this will therefore lead the borrower to a jeopardize financial situation. On top of that, poverty will be the repercussion of low paying jobs because poor parents with low income find it difficult to provide their children with their school needs, such as stationaries. For that reason, parents are forced to choose between providing basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing for their family or taking their children to school. As a result, children with poor parents will not get the opportunity to attend school which will contribute to the illiteracy rate in the Kunene region.
Moreover, illiteracy leads to poor communication with others. Most illiterate people are monolingual and they only speak their native languages. They can only communicate with people of their ethnic groups and are unable to communicate with people from other regions. The most spoken languages in the Kunene region are Otjiherero and Damara/Nama and they rarely speak English which is the official language in Namibia. English interconnects many tribes in Namibia and it helps them to communicate with each other with good understanding of what they are communicating about. Monolingual Otjiherero, Damara and Nama speakers will be passed out for jobs as they would not have much knowledge about a different language that teaches them something new. Interaction with each other who do not speak their language will be a failure. However, when it comes to languages one might come in a situation where they might need to interact with people who might not speak Otjiherero. (http://midddleboroughtv.com/disadvantagesofmonolingualspeaker).
In addition, low literate people cannot practice family planning, only people who are literate know about family planning and practice it. Even if an illiterate person come to know about family planning, it will still be hard to follow the instructions especially when it comes to the use of contraceptives to prevent unplanned pregnancies. If a person cannot read, how can she/he carry out the instructions on how to use that contraceptive effectively? Some will seek help from others who seem literate but the majority will be shy and their confidence will overtake them. In addition to that, illiterates who are unable to practice it will end up giving birth to many children. Since they are already illiterate and living in poverty, they will not be satisfying the basic needs of the children like enough food and better education. The children will also end up being illiterates just like their parents because no one will pay for their education fees and take care of them efficiently.
Low literacy rate affects also the political activeness of the victims. Low literacy in politics leads to misunderstandings between colleagues as they are limited on how to fully express themselves. Politics involves addressing people through speeches and being illiterate will somehow prevent you from fully wanting to assert what you want to say due to inadequate words. Furthermore, illiterates are under graded by everyone and even if he has a better suggestion to a certain issue, everyone lack interest to comprehend to what he want say. Decentralization will be aborted from the region and only the heads of the country will be allowed to make decisions regarding the development of Kunene region and their opinions will be disregarded. The region will not be dominated and the ruling party will show less interest in the region giving an opportunity to the opposition parties to dominate in it.
Additionally, a low literacy rate affects the economy of the country negatively. The country will use more money on that region more than it gained from it. This includes also recruiting workers from other regions or even outside the country to do the works available in the region since the country cannot produce its own professionals. When a country imports workers from abroad, it leads to a trade deficit because a country will spend a lot of money paying workers from abroad and they will repatriate their salaries to their home countries leaving Namibia’s economy at risk. If people living in the Kunene region were literate enough, they could fill up the vacancy positions in their region and by doing this they will save the country’s currency and can be used for some other activities for the development of that region rather than being repatriated to some other countries.
Furthermore, old traditions die hard, cultural communities in the Kunene region allow early or forced marriages amongst girls even if they are still in school. Once a girl has reached puberty, a husband is found and the girls are taken out of school to get married and have children, this leads to girls dropping out of school permanently. (Ainsworth,2005, Anongo 2011). This factor increases the rate of illiteracy in Kunene region. According to Ovaherero’s culture, this matter is more urgent and of more priority to parents than a child’s education. According to the (Eanti proverb by GAANA), you educate a woman, you educate one person, you educate a man, you educate one person. If young girls are then taken out of school in the Kunene region to practice force marriages, this means that there will be less young girls who will be educated and more illiterates. Talking of child marriage, less educated people’s marriages are less stable than those educated. Even if Kunene young girls are taken out of school to get married, their marriages will not last, for the do not have any knowledge about marriages.
Not to forget, low literacy rate also leads to child labor. Illiterate parents in Kunene region do not realize the need for a proper physical, emotional, and cognitive development of a child. Children are taken out of school to look for jobs to earn an income to provide basic needs for the family. This affects the child’s physical and mental development, as some of the jobs are too harsh and cannot be done by children which leads to problems like premature ageing, malnutrition and depression. From disadvantaged backgrounds, minority groups like the Ovahimbas in Kunene region, these children have no protection. A child who works will not be able to have a normal education and will be doomed to become an illiterate adult, having no possibility to grow in his or her professional and social life.(http://www.humanium.org).
All in all, literacy is a strong weapon that can root out social issues like dowry, corruption and child labor. A literate population can contribute manifolds to the economic and social development of a nation. If Namibia wants to be a developed and powerful nation, then literacy is the key. The government should introduce new schemes and policies and should allocate special funds to promote literacy. The value of education cannot be underestimated. Many people like to think of it merely as a process to gain skills and expertise necessary for the job market. Even though education gives an individual a competitive advantage in the job market, that is not all it does, going to school plays a major role in the mental as well as social development of a person.
The lessons learned and the experiences that a person goes through while in school, prepares him/her for life in society. The more the number of people who have gone to school, the better the community. Everyone should aspire to be educated and gain knowledge because of the important benefits of being literate. Education is the empowerment of individuals through the provision of learning and it is truly a human right and a social responsibility, therefore there should not be illiterates in Namibia. (Thailand, J. (1991). Education for all: purpose and context.France: UNESCO).
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