Written by James Okere

On Friday 8th September 2017, the world marked the International Literacy Day. The decision to celebrate International Literacy Day was taken by UNESCO on 7th November, 1965.

Thus on 8th September 1966 the first International Literacy Day was celebrated. The theme of 2017 International Literacy Day is Literacy in a digital world. This year’s celebration is another effort by UNESCO to create the consciousness between digital literacy and sustainability leading to societal development. This celebration is to further emphasize the great importance of literacy to individuals and society especially in this era of digital technology.

In 1975, during the International Symposium on Literacy held at Persepolis, Iran, “Literacy was considered to be not just the process of learning the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic but a contribution to the liberation of man and to his full development”.

Therefore, knowledge development is a critical factor of literacy and sustainability in the society. In the context of societal sustainability, it relates with knowledge gained, attitudes transformed and skills acquired by a person which he takes towards societal developmental.

A typical discussion at this year’s celebration will be in the area of digital literacy which is geared towards electronic technology that generates, stores and process literary data in line with 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for which literacy plays vital role including promoting life long learning opportunities for all; with a target that by year 2030 all the youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women would achieve literacy and numeracy including digital literacy.

One digital quote says “Technical knowledge, logic and analytical skill are important if you want to succeed in today’s global markets. The same applies to literacy development as well.

Digital literacy can be seen as a technology or scientific or engineering knowledge that deals with the creation and practical use of digital or computerized device, electronic tools system, method and systems to write and read literally works; which is prevalent today through internet and other digital technologies and devices. In addition, through social media; digital literacy is also promoted.

To underscore the importance of digitalization in this present world, UNESCO in her own word stated thus “At a record speed, digital technologies are fundamentally changing the way people live, work, learn and socialize everywhere. They are giving new possibilities to people to improve all areas of their lives including access to information; knowledge management; networking; social services; industrial production and mode of work. However, those who lack access to digital technologies and the knowledge, skills and competencies required to navigate them, can end up marginalized in increasingly digitally driven societies. Literacy is one such essential skill.” This is food for thought for all in this present digital world.

The International Literacy Day is an event to celebrate the advancement of educational values in any society, thereby creating public consciousness or awareness. Literacy in any society leads to positive growth in that society. It also leads to championing values that promotes good governance and democracy, hence the need to embrace digital literacy.

A digital literate society promotes reading culture, youth skills and entrepreneurship development. Above all, it promotes self development and sustainability in a given society.

Furthermore, in the areas of societal sustainability, digital literacy changes the individuals and groups in their behavior which are conducive towards developmental changes in the society. In addition, it promotes life discipline and generates skills which are directly applicable to the environment.

A society where illiteracy reigns portends no growth in all ramifications. Such a society is left behind socially, economically and technologically because of their total lack of knowledge and specialization.

Taken cognizance of the importance of digital literacy, the pertinent questions for Nigerians are; where does Nigeria stood in promoting digital literacy towards creating a sustainable society? How has our academic curriculum and educational standard been tailored to promote digital literate society as to promote sustainable society? To what extent have Nigerians contributed towards promoting reading culture amongst the people especially the youths through digital literacy?

It is in line with the above that attention should focus more on how the youths could key into developing digital reading culture as a way to become literate and at the same time have the right skills to fight poverty in the country.

Promoting digital literacy will spur up the youths to realize the need to internalize positive values early in life towards pursuing their life purpose as to reach their destiny. Digital reading will inspire the youths to engage each other on how to make contributions towards ending poverty in the society. Their engaging one and another would create awareness and build peace in the land to work on projects to end poverty for the betterment of the society; hence achieving sustainable development agenda. The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda has amongst others goals; the eradicating of poverty in the land. The agenda recognizes that eradicating poverty is of the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.

Promoting digital reading will improve information literacy of the youths for societal change.

Literacy promotes education and technology which develops countries. Literacy which is highly achieved through reading books will help one become a professional, acquire/develop skills, embrace opportunities, think big, set goals and follow your goals.

To promote digital literacy, we must re-awaken the people on the importance of reading culture, create reading awareness, give out books as gift, establish reading clubs in secondary schools etc

In addition it would be better for our tertiary institutions libraries to be stuffed with current and needed books at the same time equipped with e-library facilities. At the state level, the government should strive to ensure that there also exist state digital libraries equipped with the right books. The state government can further promote literacy by establishing state libraries at each geo-political zones of the state.

The state government should strive to ensure that all public secondary schools must have a functional library as to move with the pace of time. If our secondary schools cannot boast of functional library, then there is a problem, such problems are surmountable especially in this era of Information Communication Technology (ICT). At the local government level; each local government should own a well equipped public library for the citizens as literacy development is a worthy project

At the community level, government efforts should be geared towards promoting adult literacy at the same time establishing community libraries to also cater for adult and primary education. Adult literacy must be encouraged as it provides opportunity for every person to acquire and accumulates knowledge, skills and attitudes that aid in building societies.

One sure way to promote digital literacy is to sensitize and encourage the people to read quality and inspiring books via Donate Book Project. In this case; individuals, corporate organizations, NGOs, government etc, should play meaningful roles in sourcing and donating books to youth groups, libraries, and schools.

Organizing Reading competitions would also go a long way to promote digital literacy campaign, thereby building a sustainable society.

It is only an informed and articulate person that would be in the vanguard to promote sustainable society vide positive thinking, contributions, good governance etc. Also in Nigeria, teachers especially secondary school teachers should be positioned to tap into the rudiments of digital literacy because of the fundamental roles played by these teachers.

My eBook Developing Your Self is available via,  http://www.lulu.com/shop/james-ngozi-okere/developing-yourself/ebook/product-23176780.html, and  http://www.lulu.com/shop/james-ngozi-okere/developing-yourself/paperback/product-23176814.html

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