According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) data, 757 million adults still lack basic reading and writing skills.
For over 40 years now, UNESCO has been celebrating International Literacy Day on September 8 by reminding the international community that literacy is a human right and the foundation of all learning.
To make the learners of Curro grapple with the importance of literacy, The Write Stuff essay competition was held, with the Most Deserving Essay winning a two-night stay for 10 people at the farmhouse at Misty Mountain on the Long Tom Pass. Grade 10 learner Ilahn Ungerer was the worthy recipient. Judge Mark Kinnear, the Editor Outside Publications at Lowveld Media, said of Ilahn’s entry, “He was not afraid to raise opinions that might raise eyebrows. The essay was to the point and well structured. Dry humour and irony were married to create colour. I felt the passion in and seriousness of the words. Well done, well written.”
All eight winners received a R400 Exclusive Books vouchers with compliments of The Rest Nature Estate. “People argue that literacy is about ensuring people are employable and about boosting a country’s GDP. However, universal literacy has a much wider role to play – it can help enrich lives and enable people to fully participate in not only the society in which they live but with a vast community connected by the written word of the language they speak,” says Alec Bates of The Rest.
Other prizes included a Protea Hotel Nelspruit gift hamper and a breakfast voucher for four; lunch for four from the Winker Hotel in White River; R500 cash prizes or gift vouchers from the Thwala family, Jololo Construction; Stabilis Incorporated; Allycats PR and the Bremner family; two R200 vouchers from the Jock and Java, two R100 vouchers from Steiltes Spar and trophies for all the winners from Rudaman’s Bike and Marine.
The Lowvelder will be printing the winning essays and photos of the winners on its website in Literacy Week, and will also host the two senior winners to a day in the newsroom, learning the ins and outs of a community newspaper.
According to the Lowvelder’s Kinnear, Curro learners have the right to express their opinion and did so brilliantly in the Literacy Day Competition. “The entries, in English and Afrikaans, in all age groups, made for fascinating reading. Grammar was not always perfect, facts sometimes inaccurate and opinions dictated to by the vigour of youth. But… the opinions were stuck to and backed by reasoning. Curro can be proud of those who were brave enough to enter.
“I read and reread three entries, dissected them and looked for the author who put his or her opinion in writing, backed by real-life experiences and coloured with emotion.
“Cassandra van den Heever, Ilahn Ungerer and Megan Millar, you made the job of choosing the most-deserving essay thrilling and difficult.
“Out of the thousands of sentences I read, many stood out. One stood out from the many. A short, simple sentence, a request that can change a person’s life. The author is Juan Coetzee and he is seven years old. Juan wrote: ‘YOU NEED TO READ’. Need (verb) – require because it is essential. You need to read, as much as possible, from the day you learn to read until the day you die. You will benefit from every word, every book,” stressed Kinnear.
The winners were:
Grades 8, 9 and 10 English: Cassandra van den Heever.
Grades 8, 9 and 10 Afrikaans: Ilahn Ungerer.
Foundation Phase English: Juan Coetzee.
Foundation Phase Afrikaans: Kirsten Lea.
Grades 4 and 5 English: Julia van Aardt.
Grades 4 and 5 Afrikaans: Conrad Joubert.
Grades 6 and 7 English: Heloïse Schormann.
Grades 6 and 7 Afrikaans: Megan Millar
In affirming how critical encouraging people to read is, Curro headmaster Executive Head Andrew Collie shared a quote by English essayist Joseph Addison: “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”