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Sep 8, 2017

Celebrating International Literacy Day

The digital world is changing rapidly as we know. We can get information at our fingertips with just the click of button as long we have access to the internet and internet-ready devices. While cell phones and other tech gadgets bring new possibilities, they also bring challenges when it comes to literacy. So, for the fifty-first commemoration of International Literacy Day, a global event organized by UNESCO, the focus is on where and how literacy fits in the digital world. Today in Belize City and other parts of the country, the Ministry of Education recognized the day. News Five’s Andrea Polanco stopped in at the programme at the BTL Park and has more.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Digital technologies are changing the way students learn. Classrooms are quickly adapting to the ever evolving technologies that complement literacy development. So, today, across the world, countries observed literacy day – with a focus on ‘Literacy in a Digital World’. Here in Belize, the MOE joined in to promote learning through the use of technology – sharing the benefits and challenges with students.

 

Patrick Flowers

Patrick Flowers, Education Officer, Belize District Education Center

“We are showcasing the different types of literacies that schools can use to encourage students to be more interactive in the classroom. There is a wide range of resources teachers can make use of when helping or captivating students’ attention within the classroom. So, we have like ITC literacy, communication and collaboration and we also have about letting them become better digital citizens. We have cases where students take their issues out on Facebook and cyber bullying and things of that sort. How we use it can  help enhance learning within the classroom and for societies that don’t grasp and use these resources, it is just like people who will soon become marginalized because you will find that most jobs requires workers and even students to use or integrate technology.”

 

While in schools, the resources are revolutionizing the classrooms and the way students learn, There still exists, however, a divide when it comes to access to technology. In Belize, while students may have computers, tablets and internet at school, there is still a large number without access at home.

 

John Newport, Director, QUADS, MOE

John Newport

“There is a big technological divide and it is not necessarily with private or public. Some students have access to computers and internet at home and some do not. And so we actually have to be careful how we manage that. One of the things we say to teachers, if you set a homework and the homework can only be done with access to the internet and half your students don’t have access at home then you are doing something which is not so good. Teachers are getting much better at using the internet for their own self-improvement and research. So, if you go back ten years or fifteen years, the typical teacher didn’t have access to good quality up to date information about social studies or science, but now they have. So, now we know the good teacher when they are teaching the lesson are up to date and so the quality of information getting to students is much better. More and more schools have projectors and more and more teachers are getting good at using videos in the class room. What will take time to develop is to get more students hands on the device.”

 

And while each child may not have a device of his or her own, the proliferation of smartphones and internet access devices can help big time with literacy development. The Ministry of Education is encouraging families to read to children, whether they use a device or a physical book.

 

John Newport

“Everybody that has a smart phone actually has access to some very good literacy development tools. For example, if you have a child who is three or four or five years old there are many good free to download apps that will teach children letters and sounds, allow to download good story books, allow you to sit there with a child and build their vocabulary. The physical book is still a very critical component of literacy development. So, no child is going to learn to read just by using smart phones. Combining both the traditional and the modern is where we need to move forward.”

 

Andrea Polanco reporting for News Five.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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