Mobilink, UNESCO to Use Cell Phones to Increase Access to Literacy

Mobilink has signed an innovative Partnership Agreement with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for provision of literacy, educating the adolescent girls via mobile phones. The use of mobile phones for promotion of  literacy in Pakistan will be the first such use anywhere in the world.

Commenting on the partnership, Bilal Munir Sheikh, Vice President Marketing, Mobilink shared “Creating access to education is a core part of our CSR initiatives. As market leader, Mobilink actively supports initiatives that combine the benefits of technology to reach out  the community. This is the first of its kind initiative in the world and with UNESCO’s expertise in the field of education, we hope to create a model that the world can follow and learn from.”

Elaborating on the project, Maurice Robson, Director UNESCO stated, “We are grateful to Mobilink  wholeheartedly for coming forward and extending their support to this unique and first-of-its-kind initiative. The literacy programm via mobile phones is a common and popular means of communication among the youth population, to develop a mobile-based, distance post-literacy programme where the new literates receive post-literacy materials as messages on a mobile.”

As 52 % and with more than 50 million people illiterate, Pakistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in Asia. There is a large gender gap. The literacy rate for males over 15 years is 63% while that for females it is 36%. The reasons for the prevailing situation in Pakistan are complex. One of the main reasons is the difficulty of retaining literacy skills of the new literates.

In order to maintain the literacy skills after basic literacy courses, the new literates should have constant access to reading materials, at least for three months afterwards. But for most of the new literates, reading materials are scarce and the occasions to use the acquired literacy skills are rare. After graduating from the basic literacy courses, the new literates return to a non-literate environment and it is difficult for them to retain their newly acquired literacy skills.

The program has two parts. In the first, adolescent girls will receive interesting and informative text messages daily in Urdu and are expected to respond. The method is believed to be far more effective than conventional print based post-literacy programmes in maintaining the interest and  keeping the literacy skills alive. The second part of the programme includes evaluation every month to assess literates’ gains in knowledge, interactive exercises, a glossary of educational terms and additional resources. The first phase of this programme will cover 250 learners in Punjab in the next 4 months and will be expanded in other areas on favorable outcomes.

As a socially responsible corporate citizen, Mobilink believes in playing an active role in supporting the community and social development of Pakistan. Mobilink Foundation supports The Citizen’s Foundation education program across Pakistan, Zindagi Trust, Roshni Homes Trust and LUMS catering to over 2,000 students. Moreover the company has various socially inclusive products and services to facilitate the otherwise marginalized sections of society. Mobilink has also recently launched Pakistan’s first handset recycling initiative.

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