READING AND WRITING

Literacy essential in digital age of communication, says PS

Functional illiterates locked out of benefits of communication by computer, phones, tablets

In Summary

• The Education ministry will use digital technology to increase literacy but there's the problem of the digital divide, PS Jwan has said in Laikipia North.

• In a speech marking World Literacy Day, he said literacy stands at 78 per cent, compared with 61.5 per cent in 2007.

Director general for early learning, basic education Elyas Abdi hands certificate to Laikipia education and youth chief officer James Mwangi in Laikipia North on World Literacy Day, September 8.
LITERACY: Director general for early learning, basic education Elyas Abdi hands certificate to Laikipia education and youth chief officer James Mwangi in Laikipia North on World Literacy Day, September 8.
Image: ELIUD WAITHAKA

The use of digital platforms for all kinds of business has created difficulties for people who can't read and right and highlighted the digital divide.

And it has highlighted the urgent need to increase literacy from 78 per cent. It was 51.5 per cent in 2007.

That's what Education PS Julius Jwan said in speech on Wednesday in Laikipia North to mark World Literacy Day.

It was read on his behalf by director general for early learning and basic education Elyas Abdu at Doldol Centre.

Digital learning was essential during the nine-month school closure due to Covid-19, but it is not widespread. The digital divide is evident around the world, especially in developing countries.

“We have an opportunity to relook at the role digital platforms play in sustaining and expanding literacy and numeracy skills when the normal educational environment is disrupted,” Jwan said.

He said great progress has been made in the fight against illiteracy. The literacy rate now stands at 78 per cent, compared with 61.5 per cent in 2007.

The PS attributed the increase to sustained adult education and free primary and secondary education.

During the school closure, learning was facilitated through radio, TV and the Kenya Education Cloud through the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.

“Teachers conducted lessons on digital platforms with their learners attending the virtual classes from the comfort of their homes," Jwan said.

But many families still don't have internet access.

“Mobile phones, tablets, and computers are new modes of communication. They are also used for storage and retrieval of information.

"Therefore, it's necessary for us to embrace technology," he said.

The PS expressed regret that gains in education are at risk from teen pregnancies, early marriages, child labour and alcohol and drug abuse.

(Edited by V. Graham)