Digital Education to Fight Illiteracy Proposed

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Alfalit Director warns that the current digital or technological age is one that “we cannot avoid or ignore in our work as literacy practitioners because we can either adapt to it, or remain where we have been for decades, and be left behind.”

By Hannah N. Geterminah

The director of the Liberia–Ghana Mission (Alfalit), Emmanuel Giddings, says Liberian teachers can no longer afford to teach students in the same old fashion way because of technological advancements in digital education. Speaking on the observance of World Literacy Day in Monrovia last Friday, he said Liberia needs to be on par with the world and explore the possibilities of growing the country’s use of technology in education.

Celebrated under the theme “Literacy in a digital world,” Giddings said key players in the education sector must give attention to technological innovations to advance education in Liberia. He said he is optimistic that it is possible for Liberia to develop a platform that would take literacy programs from an analog approach to digital, where teachers and students do not need to be in the same place before learning can take place.

Twenty-two years have gone by with the world in the middle of the greatest technological revolution of the 21st century, and Liberia  needs to be a part of this transition, said Giddings. He indicated that the current digital or technological age is one that “we cannot avoid or ignore in our work as literacy practitioners because we can either adapt to it, or remain where we have been for decades, and be left behind.”

Director Giddings said as a full-time contributor to the eradication of illiteracy in the Liberian society “I am aware that nearly all of us in the non-formal education sector are accustomed to teaching literacy skills by analog means. By this I mean a literacy facilitator must be physically present in a classroom to use pictures, sounds and words to help his or her learners read, write or use numbers.” He said the emerging digital and technological world, of which Liberia is an integral part, should not leave Liberia behind, adding, it is imperative now more than ever before that “we begin to rethink the method of literacy education by adapting, assimilating and applying new ideas and resources to enhance and improve the country’s literacy service delivery efforts.”

Giddings noted that it will require every stakeholder in the field of literacy in Liberia to become technologically literate, which means that each must develop the ability and skills needed to function adequately and proficiently in a digital environment. The director said the digital world is a world of speed, thinking about how fast people connect to each other and with other parts of the world by taking advantage of the digital environments such as emails, instant messaging, Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, Instagram, Twitter and Linked-In.

Director Giddings called on GSM companies Orange and Lonestar Communications and others that are willing and are motivated by their social responsibility clauses, to join hands with the government and specialized groups like Alfalit to launch a nationwide campaign of digital literacy to fight illiteracy in Liberia. Rev. Giddings said the digital world is real, “and it can either stimulate development or it can create a crisis,” adding that increased and improved literacy abilities will enable Liberians to be able to live and function in the digital world.

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