Early literacy: a broader vision

Flewitt. R. (2013). Occasional Paper. Association for the Professional Development of Early Years Educators
Literacy lies at the heart of education and has been formally enshrined as a basic human right since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. For centuries, acquiring literacy has been associated with children needing to acquire knowledge about the alphabetic code in order to read and write, but broader understandings of what literacy is have developed over recent decades. Internationally, literacy is now defined as ‘the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts’ (UNESCO, 2013). It is recognised as the foundation for lifelong learning, and as ‘fully essential to social and human development in its ability to transform lives. For individuals, families, and societies alike, it is an instrument of empowerment to improve one’s health, one’s income, and one’s relationship with the world’ (UNESCO, 2013). In this broader vision, literacy is a platform for individuals to develop their knowledge and to participate fully in society through diverse oral, written, printed and digital media –
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