April 23, 2017
A Message from Minister Cuffie on the Occasion of World Book and Copyright Day 2017
Trinidad and Tobago joins UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in celebrating World Book and Copyright Day on 23 April 2017; an annual commemoration aimed at promoting reading, publishing and the protection of copyright around the world.
Currently, Trinidad and Tobago stands at a literacy rate of 99%, but with the onset of rapid technological advancement, the need for greater emphasis on the value of reading is even more significant. According to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) literacy is deemed an important assessed skill because further learning depends on it.
Our learning and knowledge must be harnessed through an intense focus on habitual reading to strengthen the creative and communication skills necessary for our future. The power of literacy and the literary world to transform the lives of our people can only be further accomplished through easier access to venues of knowledge such as National Libraries. Since assuming office, the Maloney, Rio Claro and Couva libraries have been opened and it is expected that the Mayaro Library will be completed shortly.
World Book and Copyright Day 2017 also precedes the Caribbean’s premier festival of words, stories and ideas, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, scheduled for April 26-30 2017. This vibrant annual literary festival which will bring together readers and writers from both the local and international community, is a spectacular, event, filled with readings, performances, workshops, discussions, film screenings and much more.
I am pleased that The National Library, a repository of our nation’s intellectual wealth, and the headquarters for NALIS (National Library and Information System Authority) is a programme sponsor and a central location for many of the festival’s activities.
Our country can boast of a long list of creative and intellectual literary talents. Great authors, such as Nobel Prize winner, Sir V.S. Naipaul and of course, as Trinidad could be considered his second home, the late Sir Derek Walcott. Other renowned contributors, among the many notable writers include, CLR James, Michael Anthony, Merle Hodge, Wayne Brown, Neil Bissoondath, Anthony De Verteuil, Lloyd Best, Ismith Khan, Samuel Selvon, Vahni Capildeo.
And as we collectively contemplate the way forward for our nation in these challenging economic times, let us ponder the words of the late Sir V.S. Naipul “I read many things. I read to fill in my knowledge of the world” and let us invite the insight that comes from a knowledge driven society to strategically shape our boundless fate and destiny.