Tuesday 8th September was international literacy day 2020. This year’s edition marked the 54th anniversary after it was first celebrated on 8th September 1967. Since 1967, every September 8 had witnessed book gifting, book reading and related activities undertaken by the UN body and its coalition of partners. The awareness for this year’s celebration was remarkably low as activities to mark the day was watered down in keeping with the guidelines of the COVID – 19 pandemic.
The international literacy day was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at the 14th session of UNESCO’s General Conference on 26 October, 1966 – to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society. It also doubles as a day to recognize the many challenges communities face towards increasing their literacy level. Despite progress made, over the past 53 years, literacy challenges persist with at least 773 million adults worldwide lacking basic literacy skills today; Nigerians making up about 65 million of that population.
In view of the global pandemic, the theme for the international literacy day 2020 is; Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond with a focus on the role of educators and changing pedagogies. As the theme highlights, there is an urgent need for societies to ponder on effective ways of adapting to the new normal, which by all means has begun to shape education sectors everywhere, even beyond the COVID – 19 crisis.
Nigeria first and foremost, is burdened with a high illiteracy rate bordering at 40% as at 2018 (62.02% literacy rate). Source: macrotrends. An inadequate digital infrastructure, insecurity, as well as an economy which is in dire need of resuscitation and might further overwhelm our ability as a nation to adapt to this new way of teaching and learning. In light of these challenges, the illiteracy rate in Nigeria might climb higher except of course, there is proper collaboration of stakeholders to make the necessary provision that will ensure a successful adaptation to learning in these new climes.
The result of one of such collaboration is the newly launched innovative e-learning platform by FirstBank to mark the International literacy day 2020. This new initiative is the collaborative effort of FirstBank, Lagos state government and Roducate, an innovative technology firm that is providing educational solutions that enable primary, secondary and university students to continue to study the government-accredited curriculum of various subjects and disciplines in the convenience of their home.
The initiative, which is also known as “Operation Moving One Million Nigerian Students To e-Learning” is not the first of its kind in the aftermath of the lockdown, but it is as yet, the most far-reaching and is available for free at www.firstbanknigeria.com/e-learning.
Literacy in its simplest definition is the ability to read and write, while adult literacy rate is the percentage of people ages 15 and above who can both read and write with understanding a short simple statement about their everyday life.
To learn more about the International Literacy Day 2020, visit https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/literacyday