Head, Google Brand and Reputation in Africa, Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde has disclosed that increased literacy among youths and adults would enhance growth in the region.
Aderemi-Makinde noted that literacy level presently in Africa is not equitable, inclusive and freely accessible to all due to a number of infrastructural and policy challenges, hence, the continent lags behind.
She said: “Access to technology and internet is critical to closing the gap between increased literacy rates and the challenges in the way. Literacy is directly connected to our capacity to solve our own problems; from healthcare, to economy, promoting sustainable development, building human capital and productive societies.
“At roughly 70 per cent in literacy rates, according to the African Union, compared to the rest of the world, which is at 90 per cent, the continent’s young population, who have shown a relentless digital savviness, is ready.”
Aderemi-Makinde said Google is not just committed to helping people read and write, it is also poised to building information, media and digital literacy.
She said, “Over the last few years, we have matched the can-do spirit and aggressive uptake of the internet by Africa’s young people, with the opportunity to maximize this resource, to accelerate learning and literacy. It is increasingly clear that in today’s world, the ability to read and write is a means and not an end. Being able to think and analyse critically, parse and evaluate information, access and create media, develop effective communication skills, being creative and solutions-minded, all form part of literacy.”
She added that beyond reading, writing and building skills for the future of work, young Africans are also able to learn on a day-to-day basis through apps available on the Play Store and products like YouTube and YouTube Kids. “Africans can now learn new languages, participate in mind sharpening challenges, upgrade and expand competence in photography, graphic design, coding; learn how to manage programmes; gain confidence in decision-making and other skills that serve them in their daily life and advancement.
“We are resolute in our partnership with stakeholders on the continent, working towards the goal of a more empowered and literate Africa. The goal is well within our collective grasp. Once upon a time, to achieve it, you did need a book, a pen, one child, one teacher, to learn, to change the world. These days, the internet has joined those ranks and we are proud to be a part of it all.”