Enough emphasis cannot be placed on the importance of literacy and why it is essential for sustainable development. Literacy through sustainable development is such a powerful force it holds the keys to life and death in its hands. One can therefore boldly state that a literate society can actually eradicate premature deaths. This statement is agreed with by Director of UNESCO Irina Bokova who actually states that “literacy not only changes lives, it saves them,” How is this evidenced? It is believed that if women receive primary education, then child mortality rate would be reduced by a sixth and maternal deaths would also decrease by two-thirds, hence, sustaining life. Literacy is not only important for death prevention it is essential for the promotion of good health. Why is this so? Literate females are also known to have fewer and healthier children, healthier children equates to a healthier society and by extension a healthier world.
Sustainable development through the vehicle of literacy as documented by the United Nations (2005) report recognizes, that literacy education is an essential vehicle for poverty reduction, increasing employment opportunities, moving forward gender equality, improving family health and protecting the environment. Literacy education can undoubtedly pave the way for advancement in any nation. With this advancement how can the aspect of sustainable development be reviewed from local perspectives? How can we as a country embody the tools of education for sustainable development through literacy? This must be done through purposeful determination through assessing local needs as a nation. We as a nation could begin the conversation by focusing on community development and environmental protection.
Why is education for sustainable development from an environmentalist perspective important? Jamaica is known to be a major supporter of the bauxite and tourism industries and as such these contributions also pressure the fragile ecosystems and also contribute to pollution and deforestation. Population growth and resulting problems of unemployment which is accompanied by social problems such as crime and lack of sanitation are issues that the island has to deal with. The island is also prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes which can be sources of great destruction. Jamaicans can wrestle these epidemics by implementing education that goes beyond knowledge about the environment to education aimed at fostering individuals, skills and attitudes that will lead to committed action to care for the environment, and contribute to a sustainable future.
With all of this being said it is obvious that improving literacy through education for sustainable development is the foundation for improving a nation’s capabilities, economic growth, social development and environmental protection.