THE EDITOR: We celebrated International Literacy Day as declared by UNESCO on September 8. The theme for this year’s celebration was Literacy in a Digital World. A pamphlet published by UNESCO for the occasion made some interesting observations.
An excerpt stated, “Digital technologies including the Internet, mobile phones, and all other tools to manage information digitally, are fundamentally changing the way people live and work, learn and socialise.”
What is emanating from research data is the fact that lack of literacy competence internationally is preventing many individuals from enjoying the benefits of the digital age. As we examine what is happening in this country, we realise that quite a number of our population including schoolchildren cannot read and comprehend age-appropriate materials.
This situation has to be tackled with a great deal of urgency. Children must at least be reading at the instructional level to optimise the use of the Internet and other digital apparatus.
This year’s UNESCO report on the issue states in part, “... there is a global ‘digital divide’ in terms of access to digital technologies, their use and impacts.” The report goes on to state that if the situation is not tackled urgently and correctly, the digital divide will widen.
Our students, and by extension our country, stand to gain quite a lot if we take appropriate action. If we move along in a haphazard manner, the rest of the world will leave us behind.
Moms For Literacy has been on the landscape of developing literacy competence for our children for over 20 years, and so the organisation is part of the solution. We have begun to integrate digital technology in our teaching/learning programmes and are now training parents to help tutor their children in reading. This is to bring about some level of synchronism in the teaching/learning process between home and school.
We are also collaborating with the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders in order to positively transform the literacy agenda.
TREVOR OLIVER, programme coordinator, Moms For Literacy