“One in four people in Guadeloupe aged 16 to 64 find themselves in a worrying situation regarding writing to such a degree that effective communication by this means is difficult for them. » This data comes from a survey by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee) which dates back to 2010.
Since then, the archipelago has continued to pull on it like a ball and chain, without really seeming to improve. “We will have new data at the end of 2024”, nuance Jonny Yengadessin, survey manager at INSEE in Guadeloupe. “With digital and what has been in place for ten years, things may have improved. »
Despite everything, certain facts are stubborn: during the Defense and Citizenship Days, which in particular test the reading skills of young people, in 2022, 39% of the 5,204 participants presented with reading difficulties. And this rate more or less joins (apart from French Guiana and Mayotte which peak at 61 and 67%) those of all of the French overseas territories. For comparison, in mainland France, in 2022 it was 15.7%.
However, “if we know how to quantify this illiteracy, we must identify and qualify it,” underlines Antoine Delcroix, director of the National Higher Institute of Teaching and Education (Inspé) in Guadeloupe. “If we did tests not of reading, but of comprehension, of exchange capacities in Creole, we would undoubtedly have higher skills: the quantitative, these are figures always established in relation to French, but the multilingual and socio-cultural environment of Guadeloupe must be taken into account. »
In the Antilles, the question of language is often debated, as in all regions with a strong local identity where many entities are fighting to give more rights and prevalence to the regional language.
Professionalize the fight
But it’s not just that, note all those involved in the fight against illiteracy, gathered in a seminar at the opening of the National Days of Action against Illiteracy, Friday September 8. “Illiteracy is multifactorial,” sighs Catherine Romuald, deputy general director of integration at the Guadeloupe departmental council.
It evokes pell-mell the precariousness, very strong on the territory; a family context where 60% of Guadeloupean children live in single-parent families; and, later in life, the difficulty faced with mechanisms of intergenerational solidarity which change with the departure of young people, often the most educated.
“More and more, the problem is being taken into account by all the players and funders in the region,” notes Jessica Oublié, the dynamic regional correspondent for the National Agency to Combat Illiteracy. “It shows that there is an understanding of the phenomenon, but that is not enough. »
According to her, the main difficulty is that of the accompanying persons who are lacking and are not professionalized. “There are 55,000 people in difficulty in this archipelago and 17,000 young people who are neither in employment, nor in education, nor in training. How many others are available and trained to accompany them? »
The ambition is displayed: structuring. Already, a mapping of associations, funders, actors has just been completed, but the project is still far from complete. The plan for professionalizing caregivers or teachers, to identify difficulties and direct people towards possible solutions is planned for 2024. And for 2025, a university diploma should complete things, like the one that has been open in Lyon for several years, but adapted to the socio-cultural context of Guadeloupe.