Why Community Digital Literacy?

by | Oct 25, 2021 | ICT4D |

digital literacy

There are a myriad of reasons, but I’ll state a few. But first off, it’s likely important to remind ourselves that illiteracy is unlikely to be 100%. Therefore, one of the first things to consider is finding the literate ones. Asking them how, why and where they learned. They will likely provide insight into the community you can’t gather on your own. But now to a few reasons.

The Digital Divide

In most communities, low-cost, mobile phones of some form will be available. And many households will have one. Again don’t assume this is the case, but assess the community you are working with. Often, the women and girls, especially those living with disabilities, will be the last to have one or access to one. However, phones provide access to information, banking, and connection. Knowing how to use one is key skill for us all now. And we need to be working to reduce the digital divide.

Human Rights

All of us as humans have various rights and digital weaves its ways into all areas of our lives. Therefore, digital rights become a part of human rights. And therefore, communities have the right to know why we are collecting data about them, what we are doing with it, and how they can access it or request it is deleted and so on. They should be able to use the data we collect about them to help them make decisions about their own community.

Social, Economic, and Health Opportunities

Helping to improve digital literacy in communities can help them work together for justice and better futures for their children. For some it may provide pathways to new jobs, new customers, or better prices for their goods. For others, it may help to monitor water availability, share community information, or connect with family members far away. And others, may have access to better information about health, vaccines, or if there are beds available in the local health clinic. Digital literacy opens up possibility for connection and information exchange at speed over distances. And we all have the right to know how to harness this possibility.


But also, as with anything there are positive ‘experiences’, there are also negative ‘experiences’. Perhaps one of the most important reasons for digital literacy among communities is understanding and navigating the risks involved. Just as digital exponentially increases the possibility of good, it also exponentially amplifies the bad actors. And so children, parents, and already vulnerable groups need to be aware of this and learn skills about how to protect themselves. But again, perhaps more important than this, it is important to teach the ‘bad actors’, the bullies, a different way of living.

A few things to consider. What would you add?

Photo by Marvin Meyer


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