JOHANNESBURG – September 8 was International Literacy Day, through which UNESCO highlighted the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. The International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA) is proud to represent the contribution of the global forest products industry to increased literacy around the world.
“According a 2010 study[i] by the University of Stellenbosch, the cost of functional illiteracy[ii] to South Africa’s economy in unrealised GDP is estimated at R550 billion annually,” says Jane Molony, executive director of the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) and chairperson of the South African Book Development Council (SADBC).
A study conducted by the SADBC in 2007, which focused on the reading habits of adult South Africans, showed that only 14% of the country’s people are avid book readers and a mere 5% of parents read to their children. The survey also indicated that 51% of households in South Africa did not have a single book in their home.
“Without a culture of reading, you don’t learn. Without learning, you don’t have knowledge. Without knowledge, you cannot participate in the economy,” says Molony, adding that the access to books is the first key to unlocking literacy development.
Research has shown that paper-based materials promote reading comprehension, information retention and learning, and that print-based texts are superior to digital texts in facilitating learning strategies.
The ICFPA represents more than 30 national forest and paper associations around the world, including PAMSA. Together, ICFPA members account for more than 90% of the world’s paper and more than half of global wood production.
For more information about the sustainability of the forest and paper industry, visit icfpa.org.
[ii] The inability to read and comprehend a full sentence
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF PAMSA AND ICFPA