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Rethinking Literacy in a Digital World

Rethinking literacy in a digital world

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.

“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.”

“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.”

“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. 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.”

“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.

The Digital Inclusion Manifesto

22 organisations representing a wide range of communities, including Literacy Aotearoa, are supporting the Manifesto that sets out eight goals covering:

Full participation in the digital world.

Equitable access to digital technologies

Support to access the internet and develop the necessary skills

• Future-focused digital learning opportunities

• School leavers with work-ready digital skills

Increased productivity for NZ businesses from digitally skilled staff

• Digital skills for a healthy lifestyle

Seniors connected with their families and communities.

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


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 thousands of refugees, job-seekers and other adults gain digital skills.

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