Digital Literacy has many interpreted definitions, one that is most relevant to the discussion here today is, having the skills you need to live, learn, and work in a society where communication and access to information are increasingly through digital technologies like internet platforms, social media, and mobile devices.
Whether in an over or sparsely populated country, Africa struggles with literacy in general. Once Governments understand that real investment needs to be done in education, we will be one step closer to realizing digital literacy.
If a person is deprived in 30% of 11 weighted indicators grouped under the three dimensions of ‘Education’, ‘Health’ and ‘Living Standards’, they are considered multidimensionally poor. According to the 2021 report by the Namibia Statistics Agency, multidimensional poverty was determined to affect 43% of the Namibian population. With Namibia ranking 113th on the list of the most expensive countries to live in, with the low end of people living in poverty surviving on as little as a USD 1.90 (translating into NAD 29.17) per day and at the high-end USD 5.50 (a NAD 84.32) per day.
The first inequality is the teacher to learner ratio. In Namibia the ratio is 24 660 teachers for 617 827 learners. Thus, a ratio of 0.03 teachers for each child. 1/3 of Namibian children miss school because feeding programs are failing, and often there is no transport. An estimated 55 00 Namibian school-going children don’t even have shoes.
With 1 723 primary and secondary schools, of which 119 are private, the educational divide and inequality increases as many Namibian schools don't have access to running water and electricity, let alone access to the internet.
Unless Government, regulators, the private sector, and tech philanthropic organizations take hands and find realistic solutions that are affordable to address the ever-increasing educational poverty, we will not be able to address digital literacy to raise the standards of education and deliver the future leaders of Namibia, Africa, and the world.
If the purpose of education is the integral development of a person, through academic achievement, character and mindset development as well as social cohesion and equality, it is a source of its obvious benefits for a fuller and better life. Education can contribute to the betterment of society as a whole. It develops a society in which people are aware of their rights and duties, then digital literacy is the tool to achieve this. Through this educational poverty will be eradicated.
Thus, in the future, driven by the 4th and emerging 5th industrial revolution, digital literacy will be at the heart of education and the focal point of the modern era.
Author: Sonja Coetzer, Managing Director @ Salt