Tuesday, May 21

2023 Book Fair: Stakeholders urged to support pupils, teachers acquire basic digital skills

The Ghana Country Director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Mr Abdourahamane Diallo, has asked the government and other stakeholders to build the capacity of pupils and teachers in acquiring basic digital skills to enable them compete globally.

He said literacy in the 21st century included one’s ability to use basic digital tools and applications effectively, hence the need to make “equitable investment” to support the acquisition of such elementary skills at all levels.

“Being literate in the 21st century goes beyond one’s ability to read and comprehend written text. It is, therefore, necessary to invest more resources in strengthening the capacity of learners and teachers at all levels to reap the full benefits of the digital revolution,” he noted.

Mr Diallo made the remarks in a speech read on his behalf at the opening of the 20th Edition of the Ghana International Book Fair (GIBF) in Accra on Thursday.

The four-day event themed: “Reading to connect minds for social transformation”, is hosting about 97 exhibitors from different countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Guinea and Ireland.

The Fair seeks to encourage creative writing and promote reading.

It is also an avenue for publishers, authors, book sellers, and avid readers, to converge and celebrate books while discovering and reconnecting with new and renowned authors.

While making a case for digital literacy, Mr Diallo believed the Fair would serve as a “beacon of enlightenment, bridge gaps, and foster a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us”.

“Books are not just repositories of knowledge; they are vehicles for empathy, critical thinking and personal growth. They shape our perspectives, challenge our assumptions, and inspire us to envision a better world,” he stated.

He added that the Fair was not only to showcase books, but also a celebration of Ghana’s cultural literary heritage.

The Country Director acknowledged publishers who “invest countless hours and resources in bringing works to life”, and expressed UNESCO’s commitment to supporting and fostering reading
culture among younger generations through initiatives such as the World Book Capital.

“Let us celebrate the power of books, the written word, and the unity they bring to our diverse society. Books are more than mere ink on paper, they are vessels that carry the wisdom of generations, the creativity of minds and the stories of our shared humanity.

“The GIBF is a testament to the enduring importance of literature in our lives, transcending borders and connecting us on a profound level,” he added, expressing gratitude to organisers and volunteers, who contributed to making the event successful.

Mr. Samuel Kolawole, Immediate Past Chair, Africa Publishers Network, urged stakeholders to promote a reading culture, and advised individuals to read not only for the purposes of acquiring academic certificates.

He said reading was about understanding and tapping ideas of people to make society better, hence the need to read in pursuit of knowledge.

“We are a reading people, but we don’t have a reading culture. The way we read is to acquire certificates and once that is done, we put the books aside, move on and struggle with life.

“It is only when we read the wonderful ideas others have that we can connect with those ideas and transform the society in which we live,” he observed.

Mr Asare Konadu Yamoah, President, Ghana Publishers Association, also asked stakeholders to take advantage of the UNESCO World Book Capital to promote the production of books that would be made accessible to the youth.

He said GIBF, since inception in 2003, had led to the discovery of the best books in Ghana, and enabled publishers to improve their works through reviews and comments submitted by visitors.

An array of books from different genres were on display at the Fair.

Also, there were workshops, literacy games and films, celebrity author book signing, and other activities.