There is no debate around the correlation of education and development; with education comes knowledge and with that knowledge, literacy is improved and lives are enriched. Despite the fact that closer to home, we are being inundated with technology that should aid in increasing literacy levels, one in four people in developing countries are still unable to read a sentence – leaving a legacy of illiteracy more widespread than previously believed.
According to UESCO, the UK’s educational scientific and cultural body, 175 million young people lack even basic literacy skills and an estimated 250 million children are without even a modest understanding of mathematics – despite spending at least four years in education.
So, how can we stop the global literacy crisis from becoming a full blown epidemic before it’s too late?
Many developing countries have rapidly increased their teacher numbers by hiring people without training. Whilst this does get more and more children into school, it doesn’t necessarily mean that those teachers meet the standard required to bring core literacy up to scratch.
With this in mind, investment in our teachers is essential. Teacher training is more than accreditation and certificates. Thorough training will advance teacher knowledge and help provide not just a better level of education for the student, but also a better equipped learning environment – a vital aspect of education in general.
In addition to this, access to reading and other materials in the native mother tongue languages will help boost a child’s confidence and improve their understanding of words, sounds and spelling – having a significant impact on learning – especially in a child’s early years.
Regardless of location or country, the crux of improving the quality of teaching and education is engagement and passion. With the engagement of teachers, students and their parents; no one person is solely responsible for the education and development of a child and in this sense, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all model for improving the quality of learning.
Therefore, a different kind of literacy must also be explored. Technology is bringing with it new forms of communication and a different type of literacy. This is, of course, limited to those areas with the adequate access to resources but for areas such as the UK and Europe, the combination of a traditional literacy scheme with a digital literacy syllabus could improve the learning experience. Whilst the two may seem juxtaposed, it doesn’t mean that traditional literacy will be jeopardised – in actual fact, the very opposite.
To seriously combat the growing issue of global literacy, there needs to be massive investment in teachers, school equipment and recognition of the crucial role that education and literacy play in the future of the world. At New Directions we understand that literacy should be the cornerstone in education and the training that we offer ensures that all students taught by New Directions staff are taught with confidence, passion and knowledge. After all – teaching is learning too.