The international literacy conference, held under the auspices of the United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA), was attended by 250 delegates across the globe at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Papers were presented in relation to the theme Language, Literacy and Class: Connections and Contradictions at various levels, such as teacher education, early literacy, adult literacy, primary and high school, and tertiary. Keynote speakers included Vicky Duckworth (Edge Hill University), Sue Ellis (Strathclyde University) and the renowned sociolinguist, Shirley Brice Heath (Professor of English literature, linguistics and anthropology Emeritus) of Stanford University. Shirley shared from her current research on exploring voluntary learning in disenfranchised communities. She showed how the use of the senses, especially the hands and feet, works in synergy with the brain to promote and develop literacy. Dr Boakye was pleasantly surprised when meeting Shirley in the hallway, heard her call out her name, ‘Naomi’, and stated, “you are from South Africa”! Seeing Dr Boakye’s puzzled face she added, “I read your abstract in the abstract book.” It was an honour to have been acknowledged by Shirley and to have had her read my abstract. In order not to miss the moment, we agreed to take a picture together.
Dr Boakye presented a paper titled Improving first-year Sociology students’ reading proficiency: Bridging the class divide in relation to the theme. The paper was well-received as those who attended her session gave a resounding applause at the end and wanted to know more about her research. Being the only black African among the delegates, she received a number of questions from delegates who wanted to know more about literacy development in the African context, particularly in South Africa. Questions pertained to students’ literacy levels, as well as the strategies being used to bridge the literacy gap between students from high and low socio-economic status families.
A lighter side of the conference was a visit to the famous Great Scotland museum in Glasgow.