Fishing communities need better educational programmes, UN agency says

9 May 2006

Marginalized fishing communities need better educational programmes to build on their existing literacy skills and give them the means to navigate by satellite, understand microfinance, use digital technologies, diversify their businesses and cope with official documents, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) says in a new report.

Marginalized fishing communities need better educational programmes to build on their existing literacy skills and give them the means to navigate by satellite, understand microfinance, use digital technologies, diversify their businesses and cope with official documents, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) says in a new report.

“Fishing communities often face educational disadvantages due to geographical and social marginalization,” according to a news release about the report, which is scheduled to be released tomorrow. “Education providers are often unable or unwilling to provide services tailored to mobile and migratory populations, which include many fisherfolk.”

The findings are based on field work carried out mainly by the Sustainable Fisheries Livelihoods Programme, a partnership grouping FAO, which executed it, Britain’s Department for International Development, which funded it, and 25 countries in West and Central Africa.

The research shows that even though levels of school attendance in fishing communities in such countries as Nigeria and Gambia are high – between 60 to 80 per cent – people are not sufficiently literate to access the resources they need or to understand government documents, the report says.

“Literacy and education are crucial for fisheries management, environmental conservation and livelihoods diversification,” said FAO’s Benoît Horemans, who coordinates the Sustainable Fisheries Livelihoods Programme. “However, they should be task-oriented, flexible and responsive to the fishing communities’ needs and aspirations.”

He called this “‘functional’ literacy which, in contrast to formal schooling, has an applied, real-life orientation.”

 

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