Friday, October 30, 2020

Literacy Education

We call a person who can't read illiterate. A half-century ago many of the citizens of Korea could not read or write, today very few. The numbers going to college, the increase of literate laborers, and the spread of information within the country have made Korea a leader in the world. This is what the average Korean believes. So begins an article in the Kyeongyang Magazine by a onetime journalist.

This is the reality of present-day Korea. Those who can't read or write are under one percent and have been so for some time. However, according to an OECD study of  22 developed countries,  in the reading of documents the degree of understanding and literacy, Korea is one of the lowest of the 22 countries.   

Koreans sense of pride in their country is high and according to the writer don’t want to acknowledge the above reality but it is necessary to do so. In the international community understanding what we read is more important than the ability to read or write. In the digital world in which we live literacy is required.

What is media literacy? The capability to access the media, understand the contents and evaluate. Because of the digital media revolution, we can communicate with others like never before but at the same time, we have the spread of hate and fake news and the destruction of serious and helpful news. How can this situation be controlled? In three ways: By legislation that will control digital use, a system that will fact check the news, and literacy education.

Every democratic country has laws that prevent defamatory language with their libel laws but these laws come into conflict with freedom of expression and have difficulty in many countries although Germany Australia and Singapore have succeeded. Germany because of its history during the Second World War with racial prejudice and long reflection was helped to change.

Secondly, algorithms and fact-checkers help social media to weed out fake news. This has not come into conflict with freedom of expression in some countries.

The third way is literacy education to develop a discerning judgment on what is seen and heard. This has already been done in some of the countries. Governments need to take a lead in the public area.

Korean has begun but in comparison to Europe is very slow and passive. At present certain sections of society have begun programs in literacy education in their own way. The books used have not been unified, most are literal translations of foreign books, crudely transposed. This requires that the government start taking a lead.

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