Creating awareness around the importance of International Literacy Day -8 September 2022

Posted on September 09, 2022

Sustainable Development Goal 4 has as one of its targets ensuring that all young people achieve literacy and numeracy and that adults who lack these skills are given the opportunity to acquire them.

The objective of observing literacy day is to create awareness around the importance of literacy within the UP Community.

The observance of the international literacy day at UP requires all stakeholders to create awareness and importance of all literacies. In the higher education context academic literacy is the ability to apply general reading, writing, and critical-thinking skills and strategies to a wide range of different aspects of academic life for students and staff. Academic literacy can also include other types of literacy required for advanced learning, including quantitative (maths) skills, listening, speaking, cross-cultural communication, information literacy, and using technology (digital literacy skills) as a tool for learning, and emerging data literacy. Therefore, understanding the call on this day will be our ability to ensure that undergraduate and postgraduate students, strengthen their academic literacy by building on their prior experiences and developing more advanced skills and strategies for reading, learning, researching, and writing.

What is the aim of celebrating International Literacy Day?

The UN's Sustainable Development Agenda, adopted by world leaders in September 2015, promotes universal access to quality education and learning opportunities throughout people’s lives. Sustainable Development Goal 4 has as one of its targets ensuring that all young people achieve literacy and numeracy and that adults who lack these skills are given the opportunity to acquire them.

 Who declared International Literacy Day and why?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, created International Literacy Day in 1967, to be celebrated annually on 8 September It began as an initiative to remind people around the globe about the importance of literacy to ensure dignity and human rights. A more literate society leads to a more sustainable society.

What is the importance of literacy?

It reminds the global community about the importance of literacy for everyone, including individuals, communities, and societies. It also aims to push for more intensified efforts toward more literate societies. As a University library, we tend to focus more on information literacy which is defined by the Association of College and Research Libraries as "the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.”

Why is information literacy important?

  • Acquiring skills to translate information into knowledge is relevant to all disciplines
  • Better research skills can produce more effectively-argued research papers
  • Information literacy empowers students to learn for themselves and make informed decisions
  • Students are new to scholarship and the academy, and their mental models can be different from those of the faculty
  • Information literacy gives students strategies to look for bias and assess context when evaluating information
  • Information literacy is linked to professional competency and gives graduates skills that are relevant to their work and personal lives

The library is also enhancing other forms of literacies, namely digital literacy and data literacy. Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, understand, evaluate, create, and communicate digital information, an ability that requires both cognitive and technical skills. Our Digital Scholarship Centre (DSC) houses the MakerSpace, a research and teaching facility for students and staff aimed at growing expertise in research methods and practices using technologies, that is, 3D printing.

Data literacy is a term used to describe an individual’s ability to read, understand, and utilise data in different ways. It doesn’t require an individual to be an expert—as a data scientist or analyst might be considered—but rather, to show an understanding of basic concepts, such as:

  • Different types of data
  • Common data sources
  • Data wrangling - analysis
  • Data carpentry
  • Data visualisation
  • Tools, techniques, and Open Science Framework

Data literacy is now an important skill for academic researchers and postgraduate students to know and understand the research data cycle. Data curation skills are important to most funding bodies and some journal publishers as well; they need proof of a Data Management Plan (DMP) and data supporting a publication to be curated.  A DMP is a brief document that outlines how the researcher will collect, organise, manage, store, secure, back up, preserve, and share research data.


- Author Lazarus Gallant Matizirofa, Deputy Director in the sub-Directorate: Scholarly Communication, Digital Systems & Services
Published by Jimmy Masombuka

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