Today in History: International Literacy Day

| September 8, 2017


Do you remember learning to read and write? Or perhaps using your first computer, laptop, or mobile device? Across the United States, the percentage of citizens who are able to read and write ranges from 65-85% (World Atlas, Average Educational Levels in the U.S. by State), while, according to the Pew Research Center, an estimated 77% of Americans own smart phones (Mobile Fact Sheet, 2017). The two demographics are not too far afield, leading us to reflect on the state of literacy, relationship between schooling and technology, and impact of digital learning.

September 8th marks International Literacy Day, an initiative launched by UNESCO to emphasize the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies, given large scale illiteracy and drop out rates across the globe. It was first celebrated in 1966, following recommendations made on November 7, 1965.

This year’s theme is “Literacy in a Digital World” — which looks at the literacy skills needed to navigate increasingly digitally-mediated societies, as well as effective literacy policies and programs that leverage the opportunities provided by our digital world.

News features the history and development of International Literacy Day, and also draws attention to articles that address digital literacy and its divide.

The following articles are selected from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.

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Try a search on the free ERIC government site (database of the Educational Resources Information Center) using the keywords “digital literacy” and see the results!

Recommended subject terms in the ERIC Thesaurus include: computer literacy, critical literacy, illiteracy, information literacy, literacy, literacy education, media literacy, technology literacy, visual literacy — among others!


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