International Literacy Day

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Today, 8th September is the 50th International Literacy Day! So proud to be a Singaporean and to be living in a country that has achieved universal quality education!

To date, globally, 43.9 million young people are illiterate due to poverty and political conflict. One of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030- SDG4 is quality education and life long learning. A myriad of factors affect access to education- poverty, discrimination, political instability, conflict and post-war instability and many more. As we unite globally to eradicate illiteracy, I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate Singapore’s success in education!

Over the past 52 years, we have made remarkable progress that has elevated us from an emerging nation to a developed first world nation. Our stable economic growth and prosperity embraced by a multi-cultural and multi-religious society has made this tiny red dot a notable country on the world map. Our education system is one of the world’s best where both boys and girls are given equal opportunities and access to high quality education regardless of gender, social status and age.

Singapore has been proudly labelled as a knowledge-based economy since we do not possess natural resources. Human capital is our most effective and precious resource which, gives us our key competitive advantage. When we separated from Malaysia in 1965, our late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew understood that Singapore’s success and survival depended on its people, and hence, we now have one of the highest literacy rates among our working youth and female education and participation in the workforce. We could not afford to be selective or show any form of discrimination. We have been successful in mobilizing our people to take that leap forward.

Meritocracy, Pragmatism and Honesty formed the foundation of our leadership that enabled us to propel forward. Education can spearhead a nation in alleviating various other challenges such as poverty and hunger- “Education correlates with economic growth: The average time spent in school has been statistically linked to a country’s labour productivity”. Michael Barber, Pearson’s chief education adviser. I strongly believe that investing heavily in infrastructure for education- schools, salaries and training for teachers and creating strong curriculum for students without corruption or any form of discrimination will enable us to achieve our global goal by 2030!

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