A new paper prepared by Archita Misra (PARIS21) under the supervision of Johannes Jütting (PARIS21) and Diego Kuonen (Statoo Consulting & University of Geneva) explores the state, understanding and practice of data literacy in today's society as well as the path to the future of data literacy.
The paper "Advancing data literacy in the post-pandemic world - A primer to catalyse policy dialogue and action" highlights the urgent need to develop data literacy at the level of citizens, organisations and societies. The paper first presents a few insights with key elements of the literature on data literacy, and then covers common practices of implementing data literacy programmes, with selected examples from different actors and parts of the world. It concludes by sharing some takeaways that emerged out of this stock-taking exercise and proposes a few questions to spur further dialogue and discussion
The COVID-19 crisis presents a monumental opportunity to engender a widespread data culture in our societies. Since early 2020, the emergence of popular data sites like Worldometer2 have promoted interest and attention in data-driven tracking of the pandemic. “R values”, “flattening the curve” and “exponential increase” have seeped into everyday lexicon. Social media and news outlets have filled the public consciousness with trends, rankings and graphs throughout multiple waves of COVID-19.
Yet, the crisis also reveals a critical lack of data literacy amongst citizens in many parts of the world. The lack of a data literate culture predates the pandemic. The supply of statistics and information has significantly outpaced the ability of lay citizens to make informed choices about their lives in the digital data age.
Today’s fragmented datafied information landscape is also susceptible to the pitfalls of misinformation, post-truth politics and societal polarisation – all of which demand a critical thinking lens towards data. There is an urgent need to develop data literacy at the level of citizens, organisations and society – such that all actors are empowered to navigate the complexity of modern data ecosystems.
The paper identifies three key take-aways. It is crucial to
- forge a common language around data literacy
- adopt a demand-driven approach and participatory approach to doing data literacy
- move from ad-hoc programming towards sustained policy, investment and impact
In the virtual event "Advancing data literacy in the post-pandemic world" taking place on 29 March as part of the 2021 PARIS21 Annual Meetings, Diego Kuonen (Statoo Consulting & University of Geneva) and Jeni Tennison (Open Data Institute) will further debate the path to the future of data literacy.