Sitting under a tree in Woodford Square, Port-of-Spain, secretary of Fisherman and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) Gary Aboud made a tearful plea to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to mediate with
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Difficult childhood linked to adult illiteracy
Aptitude and opportunity are things which allow for a student to develop reading and writing skills ahead of another. When the opportunity to learn to read is interrupted by difficult circumstances it creates one problem.
The real problem here is the inability to do something about those circumstances—as is the case for many children.
A child having to go to work— taking on adult responsibility—will begin to see its effect on his school performance. It may be enough to discourage him from continuing education.
The words “Big man like you can’t read and write” said to a non-reader, diminishes the reality of adults whose path to literacy was not paved with opportunities in childhood.
With an adult, the hardness of childhood extends into adulthood as reading and writing turn into another chapter of their survival story where they must hide their non-literate status. Two students recount their childhood:
When I first started to go to school, I attended Munroe Road Government School. At first I was frightened. I was picking up very slow. My family never learn me how to read and write.
We had plenty animals to mind. I had to help them. I went in the estate to load cane and also go to the garden. I used to work very hard from small till now.
I was not good in my class. My age was going up for the Common Entrance. I fail my Common Entrance. I still went to school to sit my school leaving. I did not get any certificate. I stop going to school from that till now.
I am going on 36 and with the little I know and help from literacy class, Alta, I am able to get a chance to learn some more English to better myself. In this age and time you must be able to read and write for a better future.
My mother have 14 of us. It was hard for so.
Some can read and write and some cannot read and write. The bigger ones used to go round and collect things like sweet potato, cassava, chenette, golden apple and bene. I used to go to catch crab.
Mamie used to go with us all at this. She would sell. Sometimes Papa get work like cutlassing, cutting coconut and put them to dry.
We were very poor so Mamie cannot help, so I go to the class to learn to read and write. I am trying but like I am getting nowhere.
People outside class laugh at you when you go to Alta class to learn to write and they put you down. They make you shame. They need to encourage you. I am praying and asking God to help me.
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