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International Literacy Day: Why ‘digital literacy’ is as important as reading and writing

International Literacy Day 2017 focusses on the theme of 'Literacy in a digital world'.

Reshu Manglik Reshu Manglik
New Delhi Published on: September 08, 2017 13:52 IST
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International Literacy Day 2017 stresses on importance of digital literacy

8th September, 2017 is being celebrated as International Literacy Day at Vigyan Bhawan  in New Delhi. The theme on which this year’s literacy will be around ‘Literacy in a digital world’. Under this programme, best performing States, Districts, Gram Panchayats and NGOs will be awarded with ‘Saakshar Bharat Awards’. Every year, this date is celebrated as International Literacy Day ever since its inception in 1966 at UNESCO’s 14th session. The primary agenda of observance of International Literacy Day is to mobilize public opinion in favour of struggle against illiteracy, since literacy is a key for socio-economic progress. India’s literacy rate has went from 12% to 74% ever since the British era ended in 1947. But do you believe that reading and writing is all we need to be called ‘literates’? 

With the dynamically changing technology and heavy dependence of everyday chores on tech, it has become the most fundamental need to be ‘digitally literates’. Considering the importance of digital proficiency in the career roles, it has become a necessity for the young generation to be well-versed with technology as well. Gone are the days when a pen and paper were enough to bring about a revolution. Today, we’re looking forward to a ‘digital revolution’. 

Here are few reasons why we need to become digitally literates apart from the ‘read and write’ literates

Digital proficiency helps you become an aware citizen. A person who knows how to use the technology to interact with the world around them is more aware than the one who doesn’t. 

Digital technology like social media can help people interact with their distantly-placed friends and family members. Communication by the means of letters and phone calls are not always possible. 

Even the blue collar jobs require digital literacy nowadays. It is one way to increase productivity and analyze market trends, and also to ensure job safety. 

The jobs which earlier required immense labour can be done in a blink of an eye with the help of digital medium. It has become a history when you used to sweat it out in the sun to get a single article from the market. Standing in the long queues of bank is another example. 

Seeking help has also become tad easier on digital medium. Complaints with Police, civic bodies, etc can be easily filed using an electronic media. In some cases, the task is done even without your physical presence. 

There’s no doubt that students can be more successful after completing their education if they are digitally literate. They need to learn to find out digital solutions to the problems and to adapt to new tools to find more effective ways of doing things in their respective fields. From engineers to politicians, the integration of technology in work has transformed every discipline and career. In fact, the employers find digital tools more reliable than traditional tools in evaluating the job applicants. 

Apart from employment, learning to use technology is more useful than just landing in your dream job. If you look around, you’ll find digital involvement in nearly every aspect of life. Sample demonetisation. Those who were heavily reliant on paper money for their transactions faced more problems than those who usually carry out their transaction via internet banking and card. 

Even UNSECO has stated that those who lack digital know-how and lack skills to navigate them are more likely to be marginalised in this highly digital-driven society. In order to reduce the literacy skills gap and inequalities, a statement from UNESCO reads that this year’s International Literacy Day will focus on the challenges and opportunities in promoting literacy in the digital world, where 750 million adults and 264 million out-of-shool children lack even basic literacy skills. 

"It is an occasion to mark achievements and reflect on ways to counter remaining challenges for the promotion of literacy as an integral part of lifelong learning within and beyond the 2030 Education Agenda,"  UNESCO says on the occasion of  International Literacy Day. 

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