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Posts Tagged ‘literacy’

This librarian couldn’t let this go by without a mention… Today is World Book Day and, naturally, Oaxaca celebrates with music!   Under the shade of 130+ year old Indian laurel trees on the zócalo, the State Marimba Band opened the festivities.

P1030861According to the SECULTA website, the celebrations also include storytelling and a marathon of reading aloud from works by Octavio Paz, José Emilio Pacheco, José Revueltas, Julio Cortázar, Efraín Huerta, Juan Gelman, Juan Ramón Jiménez, and by the recently deceased and much revered, Gabriel García Márquez.

While the zócalo and Alcalá are the settings for book fairs several times a year, most of the public libraries are inadequate to fulfill their designated tasks and the price of books (200 to 300 pesos) is way beyond the reach of most of the state’s residents.  Thus, it should surprise no one that reports show Oaxaqueños read an average of only one book per year.   The secretary of Cultures and Arts of Oaxaca ( SECULTA ), Francisco Martínez Neri, acknowledged, “A people with few economic opportunities read little, so it requires the creation of public policies to have books at affordable prices.”  Programs like Libros Para Pueblos, try to fill the gap, but it’s only the proverbial drop in the bucket.

I’ve previously mentioned the controversial “education reform” program of Mexico’s current president, Peña Nieto.  Perhaps, a massive nationwide literacy campaign modeled after the wildly successful, Cuban Literacy Campaign of 1961 would be a good place to start.  Maybe the education reformers should read, Latin lessons: What can we learn from the world’s most ambitious literacy campaign?

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Oaxaca is playing host to the 29th Feria del Libro: Guelaguetza Popular de los Libros y sus Lectores (Book Fair of Books and Readers), a four day event, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Arts of Oaxaca, the State Institute of Education of Oaxaca, and the National Council for Culture and the Arts. Istmo book fair participantsTents and tables line the Alcala and the Alameda, where workshops are being held; books are everywhere; and children, in colorful t-shirts promoting the feria and their regions, fill el centro. Book fair tentAccording to publicity, the feria is designed to bring together 5000 children from the eight regions of Oaxaca, 700 parents, and 400 teachers to promote reading.Mixteca book fair participantsOaxaca is one of the poorest and most indigenous states in Mexico and according to a Sipaz report, 21.5% of the Oaxacan population is illiterate; 26.7% of Oaxacan women are illiterate, compared to 15.5% of men; 34% of children over five years old do not attend school; the average grade of education is 6th grade; and almost 20% of the population over 5 years old that speak an indigenous language do not speak Spanish.Women at the book fairThe need is great!!!  How could this librarian not love this and other efforts to promote literacy in Oaxaca.

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