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Defining Literacy

We all know what "literacy" means, right? Well, maybe not. There has been some re-defining of the term in recent times, as the world and society changes and more is expected in the community, in the workplace, and elsewhere.

Literacy Advance defines literacy as:

The ability to read, write, speak and listen, and use numeracy and technology, at a level that enables people to express and understand ideas and opinions, to make decisions and solve problems, to achieve their goals, and to participate fully in their community and in wider society. Achieving literacy is a lifelong learning process.


The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development) simplifies this idea well:

Literacy is more than just reading, writing, and numeracy. It's not about being literate or illiterate anymore, but having adequate skills for today's demands.

In coming up with our own definition, we were inspired by definitions of literacy from other places, most notably the following:

UNESCO - Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.

NAAL (National Assessment of Adult Literacy)- Literacy is using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential.

Proliteracy - Literacy is the ability to read, write, compute, and use technology at a level that enables an individual to reach his or her full potential as a parent, employee, and community member.

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