Literacy, a blessing taken for granted

By Megan Fiu Ra’vu

Did you know, there is an estimate of over 773 million adults around the world who are illiterate? That’s not just it, United States, the most powerful and developed country in the world has an estimated 32 million American adults who are illiterate. That’s quite shocking right? Okay, now try imagine a developing country like Papua New Guinea in this big picture. Where do we stand in terms of literacy and benefiting from the digital age?

In the 21st century, literacy is a blessing taken for granted. With the changes and advancement in technology, people prefer reading information on a computer screen than reading a book. So what are the outcomes of on-screen reading compared with reading in print? Current research suggests that reading online results in lower understanding and less critical reflection. “[Print reading] is kind of like meditation — focusing our attention on something still,” (Mangen, 2020) In this changing world, we need to navigate with being able to read or write and without knowing both is going to be a barrier for us to experience and see many things life has to offer.

Literacy Day is important to everyone hence, it is good for community participation, effective communication and employment advancement. Literacy is the key to personal empowerment which gives us personal dignity and self-worth. We need literacy so that we can engage with the written word, keep up with current events, communicate effectively, and understand the issues in everyday life.

Even though, there has being some progress in improving literacy rates since the first International Literacy Day in the past fifty years, illiteracy still remains a global problem.

International Literacy Day was founded in 1965, by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It takes place once every year on September 8 to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights. Its main purpose is to raise awareness and concern for literacy problems that arise in local communities as well as globally. In 1967, the first International Literacy Day was held in government schools, and communities all around the world to participate in activities designed to focus on effective ways to end illiteracy even at a local level. International Literacy Day turned out to focus toward the literacy skills necessary to navigate digital-mediated societies.

I was born in the 1990s when computers and phones were not as influential as they are today, it was that decade when cell phones and internet started to take off. I’m thankful to have grown up reading books and writing journals. Comparing my time to today, there has being a drastic change. Looking back, I had good times compared to this century as everyone is always on their phones, people do not communicate face-to-face anymore. The abundance of technology in today’s society had increased poor performance in writing and a decrease in critical thinking. We need literacy for a human centred recovery. I remember back in primary school, we always participated in events like national book week and I loved it so much because I was interested in reading and I had a passion to write. I didn’t know about International Literacy Day until this year, however I think these important dates are no different to each other.

International Literacy Day is just as equally important as any other date set aside to remember, however in Papua New Guinea, not everyone knows about this important day and its purpose. Although schools celebrate this day, the rest of the populace does not know this day’s importance. Illiteracy is a big issue in a developing country like Papua New Guinea. The question we should ask ourselves, what should I do to educate people about this International Literacy Day?

Tell someone about ‘International Literacy Day’. Donate books you don’t need to local schools that need them the most, gift someone a book because you don’t know what it could do to the other person’s life. You don’t have to start a community lending library but you can still help your local community by teaching people how to read and write. Remember literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.

Happy International Literacy Day!

Mangen, A. (2020, July 28). Retrieved from
National Today. (2021, September Tuesday). Retrieved from
Sustainable Development Goals. (2021, September 07). Retrieved from

Published by Ples Singsing

Ples Singsing is envisioned to be a new platform for Papua Niuginian expressions of creativity, ingenuity and originality in art and culture. We deliberately highlight these two very broad themes as they can encompass the diverse subjects, from technology, medicine and architecture to linguistics, music, fishing, gardening et cetera. Papua Niuginian ways of thinking, living, believing, communicating, dying and so on can cover the gamut of academic, journalistic or opinionated writing and we believe that unless we give ourselves a platform to talk about and discuss these things in an open, free and non-exclusively academic space that they may remain the fodder for academics, journalists and other types of writers alone. New social media platforms have given every individual a personal space to share their feelings and ideas openly, sometimes without immediate censure. The Ples Singsing writer’s blog would like to provide another more structured platform for Papua Niuginian expressions in written, visual and audio formats while also providing some regulation of the type and content of materials to be shared publicly.

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