In today’s world, the term literacy is not just about learning how to read and write anymore. As the country charts its future toward the so-called “next normal,” presuming that this pandemic will end already, digital literacy in the Philippines will be of high significance and importance.

The level of digitalization at present may already be in an advanced stage, but do Filipinos have the skills and capabilities already to be fully functional, effective, and efficient and be called “literate” enough to use digital technologies? Are they digitally literate enough to use information and communication technology (ICT) to tackle issues related to gender inequality, education, health, even employment?

Heck, can Filipinos even connect to the internet properly and consistently?

Recent data from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the specialized agency of the United Nations about ICT, showed a surge in terms of internet usage to an estimated 4.9 billion in 2021 from around 4.1 billion back in 2019.

But despite this surge, connecting to the internet still remains unequal. An estimated 2.9 billion people have still never used the internet and of this number, 96 percent live in developing countries.

“While almost two-thirds of the world’s population is now online, there is a lot more to do to get everyone connected to the Internet,” said ITU Secretary General Houlin Zhao.

For most ordinary people, being able to send messages and post to social media or simply surf the internet does not mean being digitally literate. People must have specific skills to be able to create digital content and share it online in the most responsible manner. The time to teach students anything and everything about digital literacy should also start right now, in the classroom, while they are still young so that once they graduate, they can proudly say that they are already digitally literate and be able to find gainful employment.

As many people look to the internet for information, it is also about teaching them how to create, communicate, share and yes, discern the kind of information they get. People should know how to consume and share correct information, especially in this world where “fake news” is practically considered gospel truth, protect them from and even help stop cyberbullies and cybercriminals. Digital literacy means not just having the ability to enter the World Wide Web and surf websites but also having the skills to effectively and responsibly find, assess, and evaluate information found online.

Digital literacy for all Filipinos is the kind of dream that Computer Literacy, Innovation, Connectivity and Knowledge or simply “CLICK” partylist wishes to achieve for Filipinos. It is about spreading awareness about digital literacy as a catalyst for change in many aspects of their lives, be it in education, employment, health, business and yes, more importantly, governance.

An important part of improving lives of many Filipinos is also about governance, which is why part of what CLICK intends to provide a solution in the area of governance is to usher it to the digital era. Admittedly, the government is still not ready for digitalization. Government processes are still mostly manual or paper-based, and many public servants in government are somewhat still aloof to modernization and technology, perhaps due to lack of awareness about its benefits, or probably the thought of “change” scares them.

With CLICK, their legislative agenda with regard to digitizing government services is to let every level of government, from the national to the barangays undergo a digital literacy journey to keep itself at pace with technological developments in governance in the 21st Century. Perhaps, reinventing how the government provides services and opening up its eyes regarding its role in national development through legislation will fast-track its modernization/automation of services using technology to make the lives of Filipinos easier and better in the years to come.

CLICK believes that only through effective and sound legislation can they affect change for all Filipinos regardless of economic status and geographical location using the power of technology and will help chart the country’s digital literacy roadmap. Decades of neglect and misinformation, coupled with corruption in terms of governance, will not be fixed overnight. Righting what was wrong for decades is not just a “weekend project.”

The work of crafting laws to help create better lives for Filipinos through the power of digital technology will be painstaking and meticulous, and will not offer an instant cure to their problems. Ultimately, through laws that leverage on technology, CLICK partylist can do its share of slowly undoing what had been wrongly done, and create a stronger and more progressive Philippines that can compete—or belong side-by-side—with other more developed countries in the world with regard to digital literacy and competency.

For CLICK, digital literacy should become a way of life to give the country a chance to move forward and create an efficient and digitally sound Philippines, and a better future for Filipinos.

To know more about “CLICK,” follow CLICK Partylist on their social media accounts or visit their website at www.clickpartylist.ph.

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