International Literacy Day (8th September, 2018)

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On 8th September, 2018 the world literacy day will be celebrated, as we recognize this day we need to be aware of the significance of being literate. Literacy cannot be taken for granted in this age. Being illiterate is like being blind. Some of the reasons why literacy is vital are;

  • Enables one to survive in a harsh environment
  • It is the only way to get a good job
  • Encourages career advancement
  • Allows one to be successful in life
  • fosters economic development

Literacy means the ability to read and write and there are different types;

  • Composition - has to do with using the English language to write an academic essay that has few grammatical errors and is easy to follow
  • Research literacy has to do with finding credible sources and effectively integrating them into an academic essay in order to enhance and defend the argument of the paper
  • To be civically literate means to be engaged in important public policy and advocacy efforts.
  • Conventional Literacy – a type of literacy that deals with reading and writing skills of letters in a particular language.
  • Emergent Literacy - a type of literacy that deals with the earliest behaviors that relate to a kind of literacy in form of the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that are manifested before the actual conventional level of literacy is attained
  • Initial Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the time or stage an individual learns or is expected to learn the basics or the process of acquiring basic skills in a particular field such as reading and writing in a particular language manner.
  • Basic Literacy – refer to a type of knowledge that is expected to be known by everyone in a particular field.
  • Functional Literacy – A type of literacy that deals with application of conventional form of literacy such as reading and writing well enough to understand signs, read newspaper headings, read labels on medicine bottles, make shopping lists, read Bible, write letters, fill in forms, apply for jobs, practice the language skills verbally & in written form, reading for pleasure and purposive writing
  • Critical literacy – A type of literacy that involves interpreting a piece more than mere piece of work such as determining what effect a writer is attempting to bring about in readers, why he or she is making that effort and just who those readers are.
  • Aliteracy – refer to a level of conventional literacy analysis that deals with literate individuals who are lazy to apply reading and writing skills regularly.
  • Profession Literacy – A type of knowledge specialized in a particular field or profession. It looks at individuals specialized in particular professions such as; Medical profession, teaching profession, legal profession etc.
  • Legal Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at law related knowledge, skills and proficiency an individual may possess in executing legal related matters.
  • Medical Literacy – A type of literacy that fall under profession literacy. Medical literacy looks at the knowledge, skills and proficiency in the medical field and health care.
  • Financial literacy – A type of literacy that looks at accounting, auditing, and any other profession relating to money or financial management issues.
  • Statistical literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the ability to understand statistics as presented in different forms of publications such as newspapers, television, and the Internet. Numeracy is a prerequisite to being statistically literate. Being statistically literate means having both the ability to critically evaluate statistical material and to appreciate the relevance of statistically-based approaches to all aspects of life in general.
  • Film Literacy – skills and abilities possessed by an individual to practice the art and craft of film making and its processes
  • Teaching literacy – A form of literacy that focuses on an individual’s abilities to teach effectively in a particular subject matter. He/she understands the craft of teaching and the necessities that can be applied for an effective teacher.
  • Workforce literacy – A type of literacy that prepares an individual to know what transpires at a workplace before they start work. It deals with a pre-service employment preparation for an individual intending to be in a particular profession.
  • Workplace literacy – A type of literacy that supports current workers already in employment with regard to their rights, conditions of service and their plight.
  • Survival Literacy – A type of functional literacy that involves teaching survival skills like income generating skills that empowers societies economically to be independent and self-sustaining.
  • Street Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at an individual’s ability to survive and adapt to the life of the streets and maintain its standards as their immediate environment for purposes of survival.
  • Scientific Literacy – A type of literacy that categorically addresses the scientific know how of popular science disciplines.
  • Agricultural literacy – An individual’s ability to farm, establish and ascertain agricultural related environments and practice the actual competencies in the field. Knowledge of the soil that support good farming and what types of crops to grow, when and where is all part of agriculture literacy.
  • Ecological literacy – refer to an individual’s ability to understand the natural systems that makes life on earth possible. This includes such things as nature (water, trees, glass, animals and others) that support human life.
  • Translitertacy – Refer to the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks
  • Magical Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at magic, witchcraft, and an understanding of the operations of the dark forces, how they threaten people’s lives, how they work, how to use and control them.
  • Cultural and Cross Cultural Literacy – A type of literacy that look at an individual’s ability to understand and appreciate the similarities and differences in the customs, values, and beliefs of one’s own culture and the cultures of others
  • Family literacy – A type of literacy that looks at family related matters with regard to how to keep a wife, a husband, children and other relatives happily and morally right
  • Art(s) Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at an individual’s ability to manifest art skills in exceptionally and relatively varying degrees by selecting or shaping materials to convey an idea, emotion, or visually interesting form.
  • Civic Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the plight of citizens, patriotism, rights, the city, powers of leaders and how the nation is run and being governed
  • Electoral Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the knowledge, skills and abilities associated with electoral matters; election strategies, conducting free and fair elections, involving different stake holders in the elections and so on
  • Adult Literacy – A type of literacy that look at the type of education offered to the adults in order for them to adapt to their respective environments with survivalistic skills. It involves the teaching of income generating skills, civic education and other critical issues within their own environment by making use of the available resources
  • Information Literacy – A type or type of literacy that look at the ability to recognize the extent and nature of the information needed, to locate, evaluate, and effectively use the needed information in the manner that would befit it
  • Popular Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at popular knowledge, speculations, values that come from advertising, the entertainment industry, the media, and icons of style and are targeted to the ordinary people in society.
  • Diaspora literacy - This is the ability to understand the traditions, beliefs, culture and communication patterns from a scattered population with a common origin in a geographical area.
  • Emotional literacy – Emotional literacy refer to one’s ability to manage and understand their emotions as well as that of others
  • Multiliteracies – The notion and acknowledgement that there are so much literacy that exists in different fields associated with different domains of the society.

The following are different forms of literacy some of them can be considered types;

  •  Digital Literacy- Cognitive skills that are used in executing tasks in digital environments
  •  Computer Literacy- Ability to use a computer and software
  •  Media Literacy- Ability to think critically about different types of media
  • Information Literacy-Ability to evaluate, locate, identify, and effectively use info
  • Technology Literacy- The ability to use technology effectively in several different ways
  • Political Literacy- Knowledge and skills needed to actively participate in political matters
  • Cultural Literacy- The knowledge of one's own culture
  •  Multicultural Literacy- The knowledge and appreciation of other cultures
  • Visual Literacy- The ability to critically read images

Children should be equipped with literacy skills right when they are young and continue learning and advancing these skills upto their adult stage. In Africa, adults who missed out in learning these skills should always find a way to learn them. As the world advances, skills change and more new skills should be acquired in order to keep abreast with the changing employment needs and environmental requirements.

Compiled by Grace C. Sitienei – University of Nairobi Library