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International Literacy Day: Alumni contributing to literacy learning across South Asia

Posted: 8 September 2021

Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Alumni, COVID-19, Disability, Impact, Inclusion,

Since 1966, International Literacy Day has been celebrated each year on 8 September. Literacy is a matter of dignity and human rights, and a path towards a more sustainable society. The theme for International Literacy Day in 2021 is ‘Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide’.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the learning of children, young people and adults at an unprecedented scale. It has also magnified the pre-existing inequalities in access to meaningful literacy learning opportunities. Across the world,  educators are exploring options to ensure continuity of learning despite the global crisis.

Across South Asia, Australia Awards alumni are helping build a solid foundation for a human-centred recovery by contributing to inclusive and meaningful literacy learning including technology-enabled solutions to leave no one behind.

In Bangladesh, Rokhsana Perveen is playing a leadership role in progressing training of teachers in inclusive digital education. She is involved in efforts to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural teachers and students by conducting digital training, engaging in advocacy and creating opportunities to develop habits for using technology in education.

Australia Awards alumna from Bangladesh Rokhsana Parveen

“Access to digital resources is a right for every citizen,” she says. “I am delighted that trained teachers now play a crucial role in inclusive digital education, narrowing the digital divide during this pandemic.”

Embedding accessible education practices from an early age is part of the answer to ensuring long-term literacy learning success.

Public health specialist Dr Asiri Hewamalage is committed to promoting child-friendly education in Sri Lanka that is inclusive and equitable for all. Through her work, she aims to encourage nurturing care practices among parents and teachers of early childhood education, which will give all children in the country a head start in achieving their maximum potential.

With the exponential rise in digital education comes a need for a renewed focus on cybersecurity, in particular protecting the more vulnerable from the inherit risk of an increasingly virtual world.

In Bhutan, Dechen Chhoeden is helping bridge the digital literacy gap by strengthening cybersecurity for students and teachers. “Online learning has become crucial, especially in light of the global pandemic situation adding to the challenge of the digital divide in the country. Therefore, there is a pertinent need to adopt innovative solutions and continue our efforts for enhancing digital literacy and accessibility of ICT to benefit everyone in the country,” she says.

Australia Awards alumna from Bhutan Dechen Chhoeden

Dechen’s colleague Sonam Lhamo works as a Senior Information and Communications Technology Officer at Bhutan’s Ministry of Information and Communications. Sonam’s work is centered around adopting innovative solutions to improve digital literacy and to address challenges related to the digital divide in learning, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As a focal person for the Ministry’s eGovernance Policy implementation, she leads the monitoring and evaluation of policy documents to ensure that action plans aimed at narrowing the digital divide are carried out on time.

Accessibility means giving equitable access to everyone along the continuum of human ability and experience which Sagar Prasai practices through his work on accessible learning opportunities for people with disability in Nepal.  He says, “For online learning to be fully accessible, it should be able to cater to the needs of users with different kinds of disabilities.”  Sagar also believes that online education systems are likely to continue to increase over-time in importance and prevalence.

Australia Awards alum from Nepal Sagar Prasai

Echoing the words of his fellows, alum Bijay Tamang believes “The role of educators is to unlock literacy and ensure inclusive and quality education is embarked using innovative and effective pedagogies and teaching methodologies.” As a Principal of the Shree Navajyoti Deaf Secondary School in Sindhuli, Nepal, he formulates and implements policy and programs to support the education and socialisation of people with disability and marginalised groups.

Finally, in the Maldives, Usha Moosa is contributing to inclusive education in her country. Having completed a Master of Education (Leadership and Management) from Flinders University in 2019, Usha is currently serving as Principal at a local public school on the island of Madifushi in Thaa Atoll. In this role, she has been paying attention to teachers training to help them engage with academically challenged students to make them feel more included. “I am excited to utilise the knowledge I gained in Australia, especially building people up, making it more inclusive for everyone,” said Usha.

Australia Awards alumni in South Asia are current and future leaders, influencers and change-makers who are making meaningful contributions in their country and globally. Read more

Image at top of page thanks to freepik.com