'Education best investment to combat poverty in world'

Katlego Moeng

Katlego Moeng

There are 774million illiterate adults and 301million children who are not getting access to the classroom around the world.

Nearly all governments have promised "Education for All" by 2015, as part of the Millennium Development Goals. Yet the current global financial crisis threatens to worsen the situation, says Assibi Napoe, chairperson of the Global Campaign for Education.

"The world's poorest did not create this crisis, yet they stand to pay the highest price. The rich world has a responsibility to education - one of the best investments the world can make to combat poverty," says Napoe.

"We are calling for $16billion (R143billion), a small fraction of the cost of the bank bailouts."

South Africa has budgeted R6,1 billion for the next five years on the Kha Ri Gude (Let us Learn) mass literacy campaign for 4,7million locals by 2012.

The campaign, part of the Adult Basic Education and Training programme, was launched by former president Thabo Mbeki in February last year. But the roll-out has hit a stumbling block with some teachers not being paid.

To round off Literacy Week, which starts today, Education Minister Naledi Pandor will address the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign on Friday.

"The campaign calls on all individuals and organisations to assume responsibility for improving the quality of education," said Tebogo Tlholoe, assistant director of communications.

This week 10million people around the world are expected to take part in The Big Read, to demand urgent action for the one in four women who are illiterate.

Nelson Mandela, Natalie Portman, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker and others have contributed short stories to The Big Read - a book aimed at challenging the global education crisis.