Literacy Day – Rethinking literacy in a digital world

Will we leave them behind? video for Literacy Day
Beyond reading, writing and counting skills, literacy is now understood as a means of identification, understanding, interpretation, creation, and communication in an increasingly digital, fast-changing world.

‘Literacy in a digital world’ focus of International Literacy Day

The 20/20 Trust welcomes the recognition being given to literacy in a digital world as the focus for UNESCO’s International Literacy Day on 8 September.

Ms Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, points out that digital technologies are permeating all spheres of our lives, fundamentally shaping how we live, work, learn and socialize.  “These new technologies are opening vast new opportunities to improve our lives and connect globally – but they can also marginalize those who lack the essential skills, like literacy, needed to navigate them,” she said.

Escaping poverty, ensuring equal opportunity – the Manifesto for Digital Literacy

“We couldn’t agree more,” said Laurence Millar, Chair of the 20/20 Trust.  “This is why we recently released a Digital Inclusion Manifesto calling on all political parties to make digital literacy and digital inclusion a priority to help New Zealanders escape from poverty and ensure equitable opportunities for all.”

Digital literacy and skills needed in ALL government programmes

“We acknowledge that the Government already recognises digital literacy as a priority in some areas. For example, both the Lottery Grants Board and the Tertiary Education Commission’s Adult and Community Education fund recognise digital literacy as a distinctive priority along with literacy and numeracy,” said Mr Millar.

“But what is important for New Zealand’s future is to embed digital literacy and digital skills in all government-funded programmes.”

Working with literacy organisations

“We recognise the work of Literacy Aotearoa and the 35 member providers (Ngā Poupou), many of whom are already working collaboratively with our Trust to offer digital literacy components as part of their core literacy programmes,” said Mr Millar.  “It is also pleasing to see the summary of literacy proposals from each of the main political parties, released today by Literacy Aotearoa for International Literacy Day.

While all parties appear to recognise the importance of adult literacy, only two parties – Labour and NZ First – explicitly mention digital literacy, one in the context of teachers and the other for seniors.”

Some of the thousands of families and people 20/20 Trust programmes have helped
Some of the thousands of families and people 20/20 Trust programmes have helped with digital skills and access.

More needed for equitable access

“This suggests we still have some work to do to ensure digital literacy remains firmly on the agenda of an incoming government, to provide equitable access for all New Zealanders as well as prepare students for the workplace and improve workplace productivity,” concluded Mr Millar.

Growing support for the Digital Inclusion Manifesto

22 organisations including Literacy Aotearoa, umbrella-groups for mayors, libraries, business, work-place, trainers and community; and hands-on organisations support the Manifesto. The Manifesto’s 8 goals are:

  1. Full participation in the digital world.
  2. Equitable access to digital technologies
  3. Support to access the internet and develop the necessary skills
  4. Future-focused digital learning opportunities
  5. School leavers with work-ready digital skills
  6. Increased productivity for NZ businesses from digitally skilled staff
  7. Digital skills for a healthy lifestyle
  8. Seniors connected with their families and communities.

A full copy of the Manifesto, supporters and our suggestions about actions that government could take can be downloaded from our website

Laurence Millar - Chair
Laurence Millar 20/20 Trust Chair

About the 20/20 Trust

The 20/20 Trust helps New Zealanders participate in the digital world.  Our mission is to provide leadership and work with communities to deliver digital inclusion programmes.  We believe that every New Zealander should:

  1. Have affordable access to digital devices and services so they can learn, communicate, innovate and enhance their lives.
  2. Have the basic skills needed to use a digital device and access the internet.
  3. Be able to safely transact and engage when online and participate in economic, social and cultural activities.
  4. Be included, so that no-one is left behind; our focus is on digitally disadvantaged groups.
  5. Be encouraged to create and publish as much digital information as they consume.

The Trust’s digital literacy programmes have helped over 19,000 families get online, as well as helping thousands of refugees, job-seekers and other adults gain digital skills.

For further information contact:

Laurence Millar
021 441 461

More information