Minister bemoans high levels of illiteracy

OPEN … The Logos Hope opened its doors to the Namibian public on Friday.

Minister of education, arts and culture Anna Nghipondoka says although substantial efforts have been made in Africa to ensure access, completion and quality of basic education for all, the learning poverty rate is still high.

She says the number of children who cannot read simple text with comprehension at the age of 10 was the highest in sub-Saharan Africa before the Covid-19 pandemic.

She therefore encourages a reading culture.

“Let us make it a habit to pick up a book, whether it is a novel, a biography, or a poem. Let us encourage our children to explore the shelves of our libraries and discover the treasures within.

“I extend my gratitude to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture for their steadfast commitment to ensuring that our public libraries are not only operational, but also vibrant hubs of learning and discovery.

“I urge all Namibians to make use of these valuable resources and support initiatives that promote literacy and access to knowledge,” Nghipondoka says.

She was speaking at the opening ceremony of the world’s largest floating book fair, the Logos Hope, at Walvis Bay on Friday.

The ship carries an expanded selection of over 5 000 different books, sold at affordable prices.

“I am happy that the entrance to the Logos Hope Book Fair is free for children under 12 years of age and I would like to make a clarion call to all the parents at Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Henties Bay and indeed across Namibia, to flood this vessel with our presence and expose our children to what Logos Hope has to offer.

“Equally, as schools commence for the second semester, I call on the schools in and around Walvis Bay to bring pupils to this marvel of a ship, because they also have a children’s corner in the library with age-appropriate books,” Nghipondoka said.

Erongo governor Neville Andre also urged Namibians to take advantage of the opportunity.

“The arrival of this vessel holds much significance, bringing hope, culture and diversity – a beacon of learning. It offers Namibians the opportunity to explore a vast collection of books from all over.

“The mission goes beyond being just a bookstore. It gives knowledge, hope and love. The presence of our minister of education further highlights the importance that our country plays in education, literacy and cultural exchange.

“I invite more Namibians to join the ship. We must always have a representative on the ship,” he said.

Some 70 different nationalities are represented on board the ship.

Seven Namibians are serving the ship as non-salaried volunteer seafarers, engineers, electricians, nurses, teachers and cooks.

They visit orphanages, churches, hospitals, schools and prisons.

Community members will be able to participate in special events aboard the ship, including conferences and opportunities aimed at church leaders, men, women, the youth and children.

Opening hours until 21 July will be from Tuesdays to Fridays between 11h00 and 20h00, Saturdays between 10h00 and 20h00 and Sundays between 13h00 and 20h00.

The entrance fee is N$10, while children under 12 and adults over 65 years old enter for free.

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