Marcie Craig Post is Executive Director of the International Literacy Association (ILA), which supports the Pan-African Reading for All Conference. Here she shares some insights about her organisation, its links with the conference, and what she has learned during her time in South Africa.
What is the International Literacy Association and how is it involved in the conference?
We are a sixty year old organization that has always held a place in generating research and translating that research into practice in the classroom. We also deliver professional earning around that research at conferences such as this. We have local affiliates that we support in running these conferences– for example here in South Africa we have the Reading Association of South Africa. We provide funding, logistical support, and convene with our affiliates.
How can international organisations make a difference in addressing literacy issues?
We are committed as an organization to great local networks that can be more impactful. In the African region, we believe that pan-African activity is less effective than activities taking place at a national or local level. Our affiliates are instrumental in understanding regional interests and implementing ideas locally.
What interesting sessions have you seen at the conference?
I attended a really interesting session by Janet Condy on the ‘single story’. It was an interesting concept – disrupting world views, and seeing the benefits of the connectedness that comes with that. Single-story can be translatable in so many different settings by forcing students to take on different viewpoints. I also attended a session on digital – what works and what doesn’t . There’s lots of technology out there that is available for free, and the presenter suggested we should be stopping and asking ourselves what the purpose is– is a child really learning or not? The data showed that most apps are there to evaluate not to teach – we need to think about the purpose of technology and think critically about it.
What impact will this conference make, and what do you want hope will happen as a result?
All of the rich knowledge that comes out of this kind of conference is great. The questions is how can we sustain the collaboration, ideas, research, and practice. We organizations are splintering; there are thousands of us out there vying for the same funding. We need to find better ways of partnering. When you bring people together you have a better sense of empathy and can share ideas. If we don’t find ways of partnering, we we’ll only see a slow stream of dealing with the issues. These partnerships have to be deep and prolonged.
During the conference, the ILA announced that it is now offering free membership in developing countries. For more information, go to the ILA website.
In line with its commitment to education across Africa, in September 2015 Oxford University Press proudly sponsored the Pan African Reading for All and Reading Association of South Africa Literacy Conference. This article is part of a collection of insights from conference and reflections from delegates. To find out more about the event, go to www.rasa2015.co.za