Great Plains College, in partnership with Southwest Literacy Committee, will be celebrating International Literacy Day (ILD) on September 8. ILD has been celebrated around the world since 1967 in an effort to emphasize the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights and to advance the literacy agenda toward a more literate, equitable and sustainable society.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared “Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide” as the 2021 theme for ILD. The theme was chosen to reflect the inequalities of access to learning opportunities, particularly in digital literacy, that were brought to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the pandemic, many learning opportunities are being offered through distance learning. Many households don’t have access to a digital device or internet to take advantage of these distance learning opportunities, including those in developed countries like Canada. According to UNESCO, lack of access to digital resources is widening the socio-economic gap and if this inequity is not addressed, it can have an impact on GDP growth, deepen the crisis of worker shortage and affect the mental and social wellbeing of societies.
“Literacy, including reading and writing, financial literacy and digital literacy, empowers people and enables them to participate fully in society,” said Bula Ghosh, Southwest Literacy Committee member and Literacy Coordinator at Great Plains College. “Great Plains College works year-round to promote literacy and lifelong learning through the Adult Basic Education and English Language Training programs in particular.”
The Southwest Literacy Committee and its members offer family literacy, early years literacy and post-secondary programs to promote literacy throughout the southwest. Efforts include literacy kits that are prepared and provided to families with children aged 0-5 to establish a love for learning and reading at an early age; literacy and skills development programs, including computer skills training, provided through the Swift Current Branch Library; and the Kids First program in partnership with the Family Resource Centre using the “Play Mobile” to travel to rural communities to reach families that wouldn’t otherwise have access to resources and literacy programs.
“It’s important to support the development of literacy skills from a very young age. This will foster a generation of life-long learners who can adapt and thrive in the ever-changing knowledge-based economies we live in,” explained Ghosh.
While Great Plains College will not be celebrating ILD with any in-person events this year, the college will be working in different ways to create awareness and understanding about this important day. The City of Swift Current has also agreed to proclaim September 5-11, 2021 as International Literacy Week. “We are pleased that the City of Swift Current has again proclaimed International Literacy Week in our community,” added Ghosh. “We want to encourage other individuals and community agencies to participate in their own special way to encourage literacy skills development from reading and writing to digital literacy.”