Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How Public Libraries Can Support Community Literacy | Beyond Access

A public library in Tbilisi, Georgia shows how comfortable spaces for enjoying reading together can be created cheaply and simply.
I recently had the fortune to participate in a UNESCO meeting
on mobile literacy solutions for out-of-school children in Thailand.
With a large population of migrants in some of the most
difficult-to-reach parts of the country, many children risk missing out
on school. Thailand’s official commitment to ensuring access to
education for all is impressive — an explicit mandate to include all
children, regardless of status — but there are many hurdles.

As the starting point for access to information, opportunity and
advancement, literacy is understandably a key priority for governments
and organizations across the development spectrum. Millennium Development Goal #2
targets universal primary education, and includes literacy rates as a
key indicator. USAID has prioritized early grade reading and aims to
improve the reading skills of a 100 million children by 2015.

So, with more than 230,000 public libraries in developing countries
around the world — institutions historically devoted to access to
reading materials — it’s confounding that libraries are usually left out
of systematic literacy efforts. It’s a huge missed opportunity. And as
new technologies start to become a realistic supplement to education
efforts, there’s even more of a need for a coordinated community
learning hub, a role libraries are suited to play. Read more...

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