International Literacy Day is celebrated across the world on September 8. Great Plains College will celebrate the day in partnership with Southwest Literacy Committee.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has chosen ‘Literacy, teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond’ as the 2020 theme for International Literacy Day (ILD). Since 1967, ILD has been celebrated around the world 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.
In the midst of the COVID-19 environment, there are many examples of restrictions, lockdowns and social distancing. COVID-19 is foremost in the minds of many as educational institutions are preparing to re-open and anticipating how it will affect the learning journey. It has also highlighted the socio-economic challenges that exist as it has affected people with less resources at higher incident levels than those with better established socio-economic status. Lack of functional literacy skills can serve as a trigger to poverty, poor health and civic participation.
“Literacy has a multiplier effect that empowers people, increases their well-being, enhances their ability to combat the challenges of a pandemic, increase civic participation and influence public policies for the advantage of many,” explains Bula Ghosh, Southwest Literacy Committee member and literacy coordinator at Great Plains College. “Knowledge is power and literacy skills play a significant role in acquiring knowledge.”
Ghosh added that today’s definition of literacy is much broader than the historical reading and writing skillsets, with financial and digital literacy skillsets becoming equally important in keeping up to date with the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century. “Over the years, oral literacy has passed on skills and knowledge from one generation to another but having ongoing access to the many other skillsets will have a meaningful effect on individuals and their families’ quality of life.”
Southwest Literacy Committee members have been playing a significant role during COVID-19 to promote literacy to the community:
- Provision of literacy kits to families with children aged 0-5 years promoting literacy to children in their early years. Kits have been distributed through the partners, Saskatchewan Health Authority and Chinook Regional Library branches.
- Kids First program reaches out to families by driving out to small rural communities in their Play Mobile, thereby providing access to resources and literacy programs that may not have otherwise been available.
- Family Resource Centre has a program for curbside drop off to their clients where resources are made available for the development of literacy and gross/fine motor skills for children.
- With educational institutions closed in the early stages of COVID, almost all schools were delivering classes online and they were assisting families with digital devices and internet access so their children could participate in online learning classes.
“Great Plains College emphasizes year-round programming to promote literacy and lifelong learning through the adult basic education and English language training programs in particular,” added Ghosh. “We are excited to be working with our partners to raise awareness on the importance of literacy.”
To celebrate ILD and increase awareness on the positive influence that literacy plays in everyday lives, the committee will be hosting an online contest due to the restrictions of COVID-19. Individuals are encouraged to watch the college’s social media channels for more information on the September contest.
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For more information contact:
Bryce Martin, marketing & communications coordinator