Published on March 25th, 2010 | by Arsalan Mir3
SMS-based Literacy Initiative
Literacy if defined that ‘age 15 and over can read and write’, demographics say that in Pakistan it is 49.9%. And in this around 63% are male and 37 female showing that this is the area in need of giving importance too. Many NGOs are trying to improve it but as discussed in the ‘Karu Mumkin’ bloggers meet-up that mobile communication can significantly contribute to it.
Today I got to know about Mobilink’s SMS-based literacy project which was launched last year as a joint venture between Mobilink and UNESCO with a local NGO, Bunyad as the implementing partner. The PR below gives the details of the program and what it has achieved so far. I really appreciate the initiative and wish to see it penetrating more.
In the pilot, the 250 learners received informative text messages daily in Urdu and were expected to respond. In the second part, the participants were evaluated on a periodic basis to assess gains in knowledge and learning. The program was conducted with the help of 10 teachers enlisted by Bunyad.
It was found that at the beginning of the program 57% of the girls were graded ‘C’ and only 28% of the girls managed to score an ‘A’. However, near the end of the project the situation reversed with percentage of girls receiving a ‘C’ dropped to only 11% whereas more than 60% of the girls were awarded an ‘A’.
The program teachers also report a stark improvement in the confidence of the young girls as owning a mobile phone made a difference to their sense of security.
Addressing the media, Rashid Khan, President and CEO, Mobilink, shared that the 5 month pilot project conducted with 250 adolescent girls in Punjab has shown a marked improvement in their reading and writing skills. Khan announced to expansion of the program to include another 1,000 girls to understand the impact of replicating the project on a larger scale. “The cell phone holds the key to social development by its very nature and we want to make sure that women are an integral part of this revolution,” Khan added.
Warren Mellor, Country Director UNESCO stated, that Pakistan is the signatory of Dakar Framework of Action for EFA, held in Dakar, Senegal in April, 2000 and Pakistan has committed to achieve 86% literacy rate by 2015. UNESCO Islamabad has successfully run a very innovative programme with BUNYAD Foundation, Lahore and Mobilink.
Mr. Mellor extended special thanks to the respected media fraternity for attending the forum and helping in promoting such a noble cause. Mr. Mellor said that a mass scale literacy drive is the need of the day, and using modern cellular technology can help us to achieve our goal very rapidly.