The issue of literacy is a pivotal component of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals and the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This year’s edition will focus on technology-enabled literacy and those digital skills required by non-literate children, youth, and adults, and how to make this learning process as inclusive and meaningful as possible.
Indeed, the context of the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the learning process of children, young people, and adults at an unprecedented scale, and has intensified the already existing inequalities in access to literacy and learning opportunities. The rapid efforts made to provide alternative ways to ensure the continuity of learning, namely the introduction of distance learning, have however highlighted the persistent digital divide with regards to connectivity, infrastructure and access to adequate technology, and disparities in access to electricity and other services necessary to continue learning online.
For this reason, to celebrate the observance, the online international conference on “Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide” will take place on 8 and 9 September. On 8 September, the conference will feature numerous panellists with the objective to share knowledge and experiences regarding inclusive and quality digital literacy programmes for children, youth, and adults. On 9 September, a special session on the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes 2021 will take place.
Here on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal, the importance of literacy in the digital sphere is one of our main concerns. To explore the topic further, we recommend checking out the following:
- The digital world undoubtedly provides many opportunities for child empowerment, participation and expression, but it also raises concerns on how they can exercise their rights in the digital environment. Discover more about children and youth’s rights in the digital space in this focus article from the June 2021 BIK bulletin.
- Back in April 2021, the European Schoolnet Academy launched the MOOC “Digital literacy and online safety: How the pandemic tested our skills”. It focuses on how disinformation, fake news and other online frauds have flourished during the pandemic, and how to effectively recognise them.
Lastly, if you want to contribute to the shaping of the internet of the future, you can get involved in the #DigitalDecade4YOUth consultation. In March 2021, the European Commission presented a vision and avenues for Europe’s digital transformation by 2030. This vision for the EU's Digital Decade evolves around four cardinal points of skills, secure and sustainable digital infrastructures, digital transformation of businesses, and digitalisation of public services. At the heart of this work is a desire to ensure that the digital world is fit for the future and can allow everyone to benefit from all the opportunities it can offer.
As part of wider consultation activities, children, youth, parents and carers, teachers and educators, and other stakeholders from across the European Union are being consulted on the priorities they see to promote, protect, respect and fulfil the rights of children and young people in a digital world. You can get involved by completing the survey and reflecting on opportunities and benefits which children and young people can gain from being online, the challenges and risks which they might face, and who you think is (or should be) responsible for improving online experiences.