The ‘SMS Based Literacy’ program uses Short Messaging Service (SMS) to impart education to learners across Pakistan. The program was conceived by UNESCO Islamabad, who started piloting this project with Mobilink in May 2009.
The fourth (4th) phase, in 2013, will include two projects with the first being the continuation of the SMS based literacy initiative for learners with an extended outreach across Punjab, KPK, FATA and Sindh. The second project extends the outreach of the program to help enhance the capacities of participating teachers across Pakistan.
As of 2013, the ‘SMS Based Literacy’ program will be managed under Mobilink Foundation’s flagship ‘mTaleem’ initiative. ‘mTaleem’ aims to provide education to underprivileged communities across Pakistan utilizing resources available to Mobilink Foundation. This includes initiatives such as ‘SMS Based Learning’ and ‘Teach 2 Transform’, which is an innovative program to engage Mobilink Torchbearers (employee volunteers) as teaching assistants in schools across Pakistan.
Elaborating on the project, Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata, Director / Representative, UNESCO stated, “We have come a long way in this public –private partnership with Mobilink and other partners. Earlier when we started, it was only for rural women, but in its upcoming phase we are also using this innovative educational approach for the youth of FATA; off course this would not had been possible without our trusted partners.”
Bilal Munir Sheikh, Chief Commercial Officer, Mobilink highlighted, “The Mobilink Foundation has been the custodian of Mobilink’s Corporate Responsibility initiatives since 2008, with education being one of our primary areas of focus. We look forward to working closely with UNESCO to enhance the impact of this initiative for both learners and teachers over the course of this project. As Pakistan’s leading provider of cellular services, Mobilink is well placed to reach out to communities across Pakistan, especially those that are cut off from the conventional educational system.”
In early 2013, the ‘SMS Based Literacy’ program won the GSMA’s Global Mobile Award in the ‘Connected Life Awards’ category, and was acknowledged as the ‘Best Mobile Education or Learning Product or Service’.
The program was highlighted by the competition’s jury as an “Excellent and needed mobile initiative with an explicit educational ideology that opens up new learning opportunities for a disadvantaged, rural group.”