Literacy development is vital for children’s overall development. So, it is not surprising that September 8th every year has been set aside as the day the world celebrates International Literacy Day (ILD). On ILD, we are reminded of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights while raising awareness and concerns for global literacy problems and advancing the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society.
How it all started
The idea for an ILD was birthed at the “World Conference of Ministers of Education on the Eradication of Illiteracy” held in Tehran, Iran in 1965. In 1966, UNESCO declared September 8 as International Literacy Day ‘to remind the international community of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies’. Since 1967, ILD has been celebrated on annually on September 8th.
Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond
The theme for the 2020 International Literacy Day is ‘Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond’. The theme highlights the role of educators and changing pedagogies and draws attention to literacy learning as a lifelong learning activity. This year, ILD focuses on youth and adults. UNESCO statistics indicates that at least 773 million adults worldwide today lack basic literacy skills and 617 million children and adolescents are not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics.
The COVID-19 pandemic that led to school closures affected about 35% of learners learning to read, causing a situation that has been described to as the COVID-slide. Situating the theme of this year’s ILD within the context of the COVID-19 crisis and beyond is a call for stakeholders to reflect on the impact of the crisis on youth and adult literacy educators and teaching and learning, on lessons learnt and on ways to effectively position youth and adult literacy learning in global and national responses.
Importance of early childhood literacy
Although the focus on this year’s ILD is on youth and adults, it is important to draw attention to the importance of early childhood literacy learning. Effective early childhood literacy learning sets a strong foundation and is crucial for better literacy outcomes and long-term success as adults. In fact, when we invest in helping children to learn to read, we offer them a priceless gift of enabling them to read to learn as they grow older, which helps them flourish emotionally, academically, socially and in many other spheres of life.
GraphoGame: an effective early childhood learning resource
One of the ways of supporting early childhood literacy learning that has the potential to yield significant returns is to invest in evidence-based learning games such as GraphoGame.
GraphoGame is an academically researched literacy learning app, game and methodology for teaching kindergarten and primary school children early grade literacy in multiple languages including English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese. GraphoGame has been developed by linguists, neuropsychologists and speech pathologists to help children to improve their reading and spelling, while simultaneously supporting struggling and dyslexic readers to boost their reading confidence.
Grapho Group Oy is an educational game company that develops scientifically validated literacy tools for home and school and is the developer of GraphoGame, the early literacy app made and validated by scientists. GraphoGame was developed as a part of a research initiative in 2011 and Grapho Group Oy was founded in Helsinki in 2017 and employs five persons and manages a partner network of neuropsychology, linguistics and pedagogy researchers in universities around the world. Our customers are NGOs, governments, school suppliers, schools, speech therapy clinics and parents.
Grapho Group Oy has partnered with a number of institutions to make different language versions of GraphoGame a free app for end-users in a number of countries. For example, we have partnership with Haskins Global Literacy Hub to make the American English version of GraphoGame free of charge for all US residents. Through partnership with Aix-Marseille University, the French version of the game is now free in France. We have equally partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank to make the Spanish language version of the game a free app for residents of Argentina, Columbia, Panama. We are currently finalising negotiations with the government of Brazil to make the game a free app in Brazil. A number of negotiations are still ongoing with different institutions in Asia and Africa to enable residents have free access to the game.
Check out GraphoGame today to find out ways to support early childhood literacy for your kid, school, community, or even an entire country.
Have a memorable International Literacy Day celebration!
Elizabeth Agbor Eta (PhD)
Project Director at GraphoGame.