"Importance of Digital Literacy in further development of Local Digital Contents"

          How does digital literacy take part in the lives of the people today? Essentially, the point of digital literacy is being able to understand and apply technology that describes the capacity to search and apply the discovered information in a beneficial and useful way. Besides, digital literacy does not replace the traditional forms of literacy as a whole, but alternately, it is framed upon and broadens the knowledge that are based on the foundation of traditional literacy structure. 

          In Myanmar, the basic literacy rates are slightly higher than the global average, which is over 80%, but there is still a gap in terms of digital literacy and skills because of the scarcity of infrastructure and training support for digital literacy education. This problem is further aggravated due to the limited supply of local contents about digital literacy based on local language and local relevance. Moreover, most of the local contents are still being distributed physically. Nevertheless, with the tremendous rise in the consumption of content through digital-platforms globally, it is just a matter of time before citizens of Myanmar consume both local and worldwide content distributed through digital platforms in the upcoming future. Therefore, it is undeniable that the role of digital literacy is highly necessary.

         Despite that, digitalizing local contents would be a big challenge in Myanmar because digital literacy, in other words, knowledge on how to properly use the internet to one’s advantage is limited, although Myanmar has already started to transform into a digital age. Furthermore, it could be said that it is unfortunate for generation X and generation Y growing up while reading books as a result of the lack of modernized digital tools, compared to this present digital age that provides people, nowadays, with the golden opportunity to read with more ease and comfort anywhere at any time. For instance, one of the proven profitable digital platforms, Wun Zinn Myanmar E book Store, is a digital platform in Myanmar where we can read all sorts of content related to literacy through this application.

         Additionally, while digital literacy mainly emphasized digital skills for using computers, the advent of the internet and the use of social media made some of its focus to shift to mobile devices. According to the research conducted by GSMA, the figure shows the stages of digital literacy in mobile devices. 

        It is apparent that the fIrst two stages are very familiar with people in Myanmar as they are frequently carried out on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the last three stages are still unacquainted within our country.  This is because of the insufficient amount of qualified local contents, and people are more interested in entertainment rather than digital literacy. Lastly, there are inadequate digital platforms. Has it become high time both digital contents and digital platforms need to be promoted and developed?

        Rewinding to the 19th decade, a similar case shows that sim cards were too expensive and considered as a luxurious item that even middle-class people could not afford. Even if the SIMs can be bought, because most of the sim card consumers were men according to our Burmese culture, it is also clear that the digital literacy stages were mostly familiar with men. However, as time passed by, prices of sim cards instantly dropped to a certain point that almost everyone could afford it. Based on this fact, the consumption of SIM cards by women gradually rose.

       Furthermore, over half of Myanmar population consists of females, which is over 51%. In addition to that,  approximately 28 million women, the majority of the workforce is filled up by women, which is 79% regarding the female labor force participation rates. Even though the population rate of women is higher than men, women, especially from rural areas, still lack the ability to catch up to men in terms of assessing mobile phones and mobile internet access. Therefore, digital literacy plays a vital role in obtaining the fullest potential of benefits from the consumption of all digital-related devices, platforms and applications, which is why, Empowering Women, in terms of Digital Literacy, is also another area that requires the utmost focus and improvement in order for Myanmar to further develop as a whole. 

         To conclude, the role of digital literacy is very impactful in our lives especially in rural areas. We hopefully wish to broaden the horizons and enhance digital literacy for the citizens of Myanmar by giving a hand to each other and, as a result, will definitely lead to more sophisticated living standards of people with higher knowledge of mobile internet access and powerful digital literacy not only for the improvement as an individual but also for the development of the country as a whole. While digital literacy plays a crucial role in the lives of people, it is compulsory that creative and high-quality local content related to digital literacy is promoted as well.

Myanmar Digital Contents Association

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