The Ghana Publishers Association (GPA) on Friday called on government to invest in the functional literacy of citizens as the world marks Books and Copyright Day.
This is because investing in books and the overall literacy of citizens could translate into viable economic mobility, contribute to increased productivity and decrease inequality.
It would also help promote understanding of key concepts and issues of governance, and workable social intervention measures.
The GPA said this in a statement signed by its President, Mr Asare Konadu Yamoah, as Ghana joined the rest of the world to commemorate the 2021 ‘World Book and Copyright Day.
“As a country, we must invest in our people starting with early childhood reading and literacy development. We must demonstrate our commitment to building a nation that has its developmental successes grounded in the quality of the people who are at the forefront of this nation building agenda,” he said.
“We cannot pretend to be functional literates or that there are no inequalities in our lives. Inequalities have never been a permanent life condition. It is a creation of our choices and making choices is a reasonable occurrence in life.”
“Books have always been with us. Reading is an activity that has been with us, and functional literacy programmes have been designed for our children and adults at a point. All these are not offering us the opportunity to appreciate our lifestyle choices. The reason for this is simple. We have not been able to organise a successful integration policy for books, reading and the natural outcome; functional literacy.”
The statement said progressive policies such as a National Book Development and Reading Policy were lacking in the book industry space.
The industry also expected the Ghana Book Development Council (GBDC) to conclude discussions and consultations on the drafting of the policy this year, to increase the interest and contributions of the book industry stakeholders to book development and reading promotion efforts, it said.
It criticised the structure of the school curriculum, which, it said, did not encourage the use of books outside the school.
“Children and students are not encouraged to read books, supplementary reading books. The children are not supplied with basic reading materials by the schools and parents are expecting the state to provide books for their children,” it said.
The statement bemoaned the little or no attention paid by governments over the years to invest in reading materials for schools, which had greatly affected the output of the children.
The GPA, therefore, called for a conscious effort to improve the quality of life of citizens by providing them with direct support to develop their creative and analytical skills through early childhood reading programmes, targeted especially at building the literacy skills of the children.
One of the assured ways to reducing social and economic inequalities, it said, was to inculcate the habit of reading, encourage the application of creativity in young ones to offer them better choices for social and economic empowerment.
“One of the everlasting and monumental gifts ever to have been presented to the world is the Book,” the statement said, and called for government to strengthen its action in promoting literacy.
It said institutions and organisations must consider procuring reading books and supporting reading programmes as reading had been proven to be a transformational activity that gave people a better understanding of life and culture, while enhancing the mental capacities of the reader and strengthening his or her creative and analytical skills.
Functional literacy had been linked to various social improvement outcomes such as improvement in health, life expectancy, gender, poverty alleviation, and sanitation.
The state must assure the people of its unflinching conviction in reducing inequalities by supporting everyone through good policies and carefully considered choices, the statement said, and called for a national consciousness that permeated every aspect of citizens’ lives aimed at achieving full literacy overtime.
“We must not delude ourselves that somehow things would work out by themselves. Nothing happens by chance,” it said.
“Books are important! Reading is the foundation of learning! Functional literacy is the guaranteed commodity that would spur our social, cultural, and economic development, and promoting creativity; an important property in the 21st century. Let’s invest in books.”