International Literacy Day 2018, promoting Literacy and Skills Development (A Feature by UNESCO)

Paris, France (PANA) - September 8th was proclaimed as International Literacy Day (ILD) at the 14th session of UNESCO’s General Conference on 26 October, 1966. Since 1967, ILD celebrations have taken place annually around the world 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.

ILD 2018 will be celebrated through:
1) a global event, including an award ceremony of the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes;
2) regional and country events; and
3) celebrations in a virtual space.

This year’s theme is ‘Literacy and skills development’. Focusing on youth and adults within the lifelong learning framework, the effective linkages between literacy and skills will be explored.

For ILD 2018, ‘skills’ means knowledge, skills and competencies required for employment, careers, and livelihoods, particularly technical and vocational skills, along with transferable skills and digital skills.

Integrated approaches that connect literacy learning and skills development have a long history.

For these approaches, functional literacy has been an influential concept since the late 1950s, viewed as a set of context-dependent skills that can engage a person with those activities in which literacy is required for an effective functioning of his or her group and community.

Beyond project managed by the education sector, numerous integrated programmes have been managed by other sectors in field such as agriculture, labour and health. These programmes have played an important role in combining literacy, technical and vocational skills, and employability and entrepreneurial skills, as exemplified by extension services and ‘farmers school’ models.

Parts of integrated programmes have targeted specific populations, such as out-of-school youth, women, rural people, low-skilled workers, and indigenous peoples.

There are multiple factors that contribute to enhancing the effectiveness of these programmes.

A review of African experiences, for instance, highlighted two enabling factors.

1) competent, reliable and well-supported teachers or instructors; and
2) the consideration of participants’ interest and conditions in programme design (Oxenham et al., 2002) 3. Its findings also indicated, among others, the need to offer concrete and immediate benefits (e.g. income generation) to motivate learners.

The renewed focus on integrated approaches is grounded, on the one hand, in persistent literacy and skills challenges, and, on the other, in the new skills demands and impetus generated by the following -

1 UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report 2012. Paris: UNESCO.
2 Gray. W. (1956) The Teaching of Reading and Writing: An International Survey. Paris and Illinois: UNESCO, SCOTT, FORESMAN and Company.
3 Oxenham, J. et al., (2002) Skills and Literacy Training for Better Livelihoods: A Review of Approaches and Experiences.
The World Bank.
2 current context of globalization, digitization and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The state of youth and adult literacy and skills, which were relatively neglected among the six Education for All (EFA) goals pursued between 2000 and 2015, is calling for stronger policy attention.

Globally, steady progress has been made in literacy with the increase in the adult literacy rate (15+ years) from 81% in 2000 to 86% in 2016.

Yet, the world is still home to at least 750 million adults, including 102 million young people (15-24 years old)4, who lack basic literacy skills. Moreover, six out of ten children and adolescents (617 million) are not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics5. If no action is taken, many of the estimated 267 million out-of-school children and young people will be part of the future illiterate adult populations.

This lack of literacy skills is also affecting TVET learners. UNESCO notes that many young people entering apprenticeships lack the literacy skills needed to succeed6. Recent studies by the OECD highlight the lack of literacy skills as an impediment for fully benefiting from TVET and work-based learning programmes.

Regarding technical and vocational skills, skills gaps and mismatch remain an issue, which, combined with other factors such as insufficient economic growth and rapid technological development, is resulting in massive unemployment and livelihood challenges that particularly affect young people, women and other disadvantaged groups.

According to the ILO (2018)8, the global unemployment rate reached 5.6 % in 2017 while the rate for youth is 13 %. Further, women are less likely to participate in the labour market with less chances of finding jobs. In many countries, the lack of information regarding the labour market demand for skills and on actual skill levels of the population is exacerbating the situation and adds another layer of challenges in managing policies and programmes.

These challenges in skill gaps and mismatch are faced by developing and developed countries alike. For example, the 2018 Global Education Monitoring Report notes that only 2% to 4% of adults surveyed in Egypt, Iran, Jamaica and Pakistan could use basic arithmetic formulas in a spreadsheet9. International surveys, such as the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), as well as the World Bank’s Skills

Towards Employability and Productivity (STEP) program, indicate alarming literacy and digital skill gaps among large adult populations even in developed countries. For instance, one out of ten adults in the OECD and partner countries had no prior computer experience, and a further 4.7% of adults lacked basic ICT skills, such as the ability to use a mouse or scroll through.the web page.

In addition to these literacy and skills challenges, globalisation and fast-advancing digital technology are transforming ways in which people work, live and learn, and are generating new skill demands and lifelong learning needs.

They are also influencing ways in which education and learning are organized and managed, involving multiple actors, including governments, NGOs, communities and the private sector.

Many countries are adopting lifelong learning approaches with a focus on learning pathways that are facilitated by multiple actors, paying attention to learners’ agency, motivations and career paths.
-0- PANA VAO 8Sept2018

08 سبتمبر 2018 13:16:35

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