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Digital Literacy the New Problem in 2019 –In the 1960s and 70s it was Literacy & Numeracy


In the 1960s and 70s the Jamaican economy was held back by a population that was illiterate an innumerate and in 2019 the economy is facing a similar challenge, as the population is now digitally illiterate. In the 1960s and 70s the world demanded people that were literate and numerate amongst other things; however, today there has been a shift as the world is now demanding people who are digitally literate.
 
Digital Literacy is the new must have for anyone who is seeking to be a part of the world’s labour market and economy. Today everything has very much gone online and citizens and consumers are being asked to access government and private services and products online.
 
In Jamaica today we are having a similar challenge to what we had in the 1960s and 70s and the government introduced JAMAL then (light the Lamp) to eradicate the high level of illiteracy and innumeracy that existed at the time. The challenge of today requires a similar solution. The Government needs to introduce an islandwide programme that will seek to eradicate the digital innumeracy that is plaguing the island.
 
Economists spoken to by Educate Jamaica believe that the economy can grow by an extra 1.5% annually with a more digitally literate population. Not only will we see economic growth, it is also expected that we will see average wage growth of 15% per annum resulting from a more digitally literate society.
 
The JLP and PNP Governments have spent hundreds of million of dollars over a number of years now, building community access points. These community access points need to become the hubs that will drive the urgent need to make the population more digitally literate and this could be done in collaboration with the HEART TRUST NTA, as well as the utilization of the computer labs in the hundreds of schools around the island. The primary and secondary schools around the island could be used during out of school hours to deliver digital literacy classes to persons in the communities surrounding the different schools.

The need to respond to the digital illiteracy is an urgent one and the Government must respond to this issue with a matter of urgency. With an additional annual economic growth of 1.5% up for grabs, we have a great incentive to act now.