International Literacy Day: Alumni transforming literacy learning across South Asia
Posted: 5 September 2022
Since 1966, International Literacy Day has been celebrated worldwide on 8 September each year to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society.
The 2022 theme for International Literacy Day is ‘Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces’, providing an opportunity to rethink the fundamental importance of literacy learning spaces to build resilience and to ensure quality, equitable and inclusive education for all.
Across South Asia, Australia Awards alumni are helping to transform literacy learning spaces in a variety of ways. This article highlights six alumni whose contributions include developing children’s literacy in entrepreneurship, training youth in the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sector, integrating digital technology into learning, providing teacher training, and increasing accessibility and inclusivity with the aim that no student is left behind.
In Bangladesh, alumnus Dr Rafiuddin Ahmed has created a program to equip young students to become future entrepreneurs. This program, named ‘Innokids’, teaches children between the ages of 10 and 16 literacy in life skills, soft skills, technology skills and business skills, and also engages parents on the journeys of these young entrepreneurs.
“If we can instil the ideas of life, soft, tech and business skills at an early age alongside the school curriculum, we can have a group of children who will find early employment and create jobs for the rest of the world,” says Rafi.
Similarly, alumnus Gouhar Pirzada is working tirelessly to improve the livelihoods of youth and out-of-school working children in Pakistan by providing them with the necessary skills to thrive in a developing country. As Chief Executive Officer of STEP Institute of Art, Design & Management, a technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institution, he not only trains students but also academic and administrative staff in the TVET sector.
As countries around the globe recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual teaching and learning continues alongside face-to-face classroom learning. Alumna Kencho Lhamo is a schoolteacher in a remote district in Bhutan, who is breaking barriers to provide accessible learning by integrating digital technology and communication at her school.
“Educators must make use of teachable moments using available resources to enhance the literacy learning of our children and not just wait for a formal setting to learn literacy,” she says.
Accessibility means giving equitable access to everyone along the continuum of human ability and experience. Alumnus Sagar Prasai puts this into practice through his work on facilitating accessible learning opportunities for people with disability in Nepal.
“For online learning to be fully accessible, it should be able to cater to the needs of users with different kinds of disabilities,” he says. Sagar also believes that online education systems are likely to continue to increase in importance and prevalence in the future.
With transformation of literacy learning comes a need for a renewed focus on teacher training. Alum Ramesh Prasad Ghimire is integrating his Australian experience, knowledge, skills and academic rigour as an Officer of English (Teacher Trainer) at the Education Training Centre in Nepal. In this role, he plans, implements and monitors professional development programs for teachers in Bagmati Province.
“I am passionate about my work as a teacher educator because education is an essential infrastructure of development,” Ramesh says. “The only way to improve the quality of education is to improve teachers’ performance and engage them in lifelong learning.”
Finally, alumna Fathmath Nishan has been a strong advocate for inclusive education in the Maldives. She recently developed three e-books for parents of students with special needs, to support them in home-schooling their children during lockdowns necessitated by the pandemic. The books focused on three main special needs topics: autism, learning disabilities and ADHD.
“Let us rethink and redesign our education spaces to ensure inclusive accessible learning is provided to all individuals to develop knowledge, skills and creativity by reimagining our ideas beyond words on a page,” she says.
Australia Awards alumni in South Asia & Mongolia are current and future leaders, influencers and change-makers who are making meaningful contributions in their country and globally. Read more.
Image at top: thanks to Pixbay.com