September 8: International Literacy Day celebration dates back to 1967, an annual event instituted by UNESCO aimed at reminding everyone about the relevance of literacy as an issue of dignity and rights for which society can advance to a more sustainable living. Literacy does not only enrich a person’s life but also creates opportunities for people to develop skills that will help them provide for themselves and their families.
Learning Poverty is defined as the percentage of learners in grade 4 who cannot read and understand a simple story, by 2030. 70% of 10-Year-Olds are now in learning poverty, unable to read and understand a simple text. For sub-Saharan Africa including Ghana, it is estimated that that half our children are going through school without acquiring basic foundational skills (literacy and numeracy).
Over the past decades, education has enabled each generation to be more capable of reading and writing than the one before. In order to broaden participation and inclusion, however, the future of literacy must go beyond reading and writing to reinforce the capacities of understanding and expression in all their forms – orally, textually, and through a widening diversity of media, including storytelling and the arts.
Child Online Africa wishes to call on parents who are the agents of socialization for the child to reconsider their approach to helping the child acquire foundational skills. There is a place for technology, this is to say children need quality interactive social experiences; plugging them into televisions, tablets or other electronic devices can only be a poor substitute for this objective.
Government and other stakeholders could also support in the transformation by making same-language subtitling a standard practice to strengthen reading skills more broadly, especially among those who may have learned basic reading and writing skills in school but require further practice and confidence.
Equity in education must embrace humanity’s many forms of knowledge and expression: this means the transformation of literacy spaces should take into consideration indigenous, minority language, and ethnically diverse learners who may be counted among those out of school.