Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond

On September 8, we celebrate the International Literacy Day. Established in 1966 by UNESCO, it reminds the international community of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies.

Nowadays, the alarming data of 773 million adults and young people lacking basic literacy skills and 617 million children and adolescents not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics show how literacy still remains a critical challenge.

In particular, the International Literacy Day 2020 focuses on “Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond,” especially on the role of educators and changing pedagogies. The theme highlights literacy learning in a lifelong learning perspective, and therefore, mainly focuses on youth and adults. The COVID-19 pandemic and its lockdown magnify existing literacy challenges. During the initial phase of the pandemic, schools were closed disrupting the education of 62.3 per cent of the world’s student population of 1.09 billion. Adult literacy and education were absent in initial education response plans, therefore many youth and adults with no or low literacy skills have had limited access to life-saving information.

The Day provides an opportunity to reflect on and discuss how innovative and effective pedagogies and teaching methodologies can be used in youth and adult literacy programs to face the pandemic and beyond. It will also give an opportunity to analyze the role of educators, as well as formulate effective policies, systems, governance and measures that can support educators and learning.