Digital literacy is vital to today’s societies
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Digital literacy is vital to today’s societies


One of UNESCO’s images for international literacy day.

International Literacy Day (8 September 2017) is promoting “Literacy in a digital world”.

Digital literacy is the ability to read and interpret media, to reproduce data and images using digital technologies, and to evaluate and apply information and knowledge gained from digital environments.

Digital technologies are changing the way people live, work, learn, and lead their lives. They offer new communication possibilities to people all over the world, including access to information, knowledge, networking, and social services.

They also have profound implications for good citizenship and good governance.

“WACC’s members and partners are promoting digital literacy as a key element of communication rights, which collectively are vital to full participation in society,” said WACC General Secretary Rev. Dr Karin Achtelstetter.

“And yet those who are not ‘digitally literate’ or who lack access or cannot afford them, risk being marginalised in societies increasingly driven by digital technologies,” she added.

Statistics show that worldwide, 750 million adults today still lack even the most basic literacy skills and some 264 million children and youth are not benefiting from school education.

In addition, a large share of adult and youth populations all over the world, including developed countries, are inadequately equipped with the basic digital skills required to function in today’s societies and workplaces.

International Literacy Day 2017 also emphases the creative ability of young people and adults to provide solutions that will make digital literacy accessible but also sustainable.

UNESCO is awarding prizes to laureates selected from five countries who have developed community-centred communication tools to help children, women, seniors and rural populations to access digital information in ways that support effective literacy practices and encourage the promotion of dynamic literate societies.

WACC commends the awards, but notes the importance of reflecting critically on how modern-day digital advancements are impacting other disenfranchised communities gender minorities, indigenous people, and people living with disabilities.

In her message for International Literacy Day 2017, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, called for better understanding the type of literacy required in a digital world to build more inclusive, equitable and sustainable societies.

“Everyone should be able to make the most of the benefits of the new digital age, for human rights, for dialogue and exchange, for more sustainable development,” she said.

UNESCO’s Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week will take place 25 October to 1 November 2017 on the theme “Media and Information Literacy in Critical Times: Re-imagining Ways of Learning and Information Environments”.

WACC is participating in the conference by speaking in the session “MIL as a tool for gender equality and advocacy in information environments” on 25 October 2017.

UNESCO has also issued a call for academic papers and case studies for the Seventh MIL and Intercultural Dialogue Conference, which will be held 24-27 October 2017 in Kingston, Jamaica.

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