Prioritise literacy to narrow digital divide
This year’s World Literacy Day theme is centred on digital literacy. It comes against the backdrop of Covid-19, which, as experts say, has increased the inequalities in education, which must concern all of us.
As with everything, education is an ever-changing sector. New technology, new ways of learning and even new lessons on the behaviour of learners should guide the process through which learning is delivered. With the pandemic, this has been even more clear.
The closure of schools and transition to digital learning systems have opened up a can of worms that requires the stakeholders to go back to the drawing board and figure out how best to incorporate the lessons learnt in this period.
They will also need to figure out how to use education as a way to recover from the effects of the pandemic as per this year’s theme: Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide.
Kenya is among the leading countries with high literacy rates at 78 per cent. Combined with the Internet penetration, this places the country at an advantage of using the tools to improve its education system and to encourage innovation. This, however, will not happen with the status quo.
More effort needs to be put in improving the infrastructure that is schools. Ensuring that learners attend school, learn and understand what they are taught is important.
The system where learners only focused on the theoretical part of education is no longer viable.
More practical learning will not only empower them, but also improve their lives by giving them the tools needed to make the right decisions.
Therefore, educational stakeholders must make sure the environment in which these pupils and students learn is conducive for this.
Besides the physical infrastructure, there should be investment in teachers and trainers who are well paid to focus on their core mandate.
These educators must also have the necessary skills that match today’s educational needs for learners and the community at large to benefit from the system.
Importantly, we must not leave out the non-literate members of the society. Investment in Adult Education programmes to incorporate the new technologies will also go a long way to reduce the digital divide in the country.
It will also empower these learners to be confident in using and enjoying digital tools now common in the country. With a literate community, lives would become better for all.