Expansion of women’s ‘literacy by mobile phone’ programme
A programme which gives Pakistani women access to literacy by using mobile phones has been expanded.
The project, the fruit of a partnership between UNESCO, Mobilink Pakistan and Pakistani NGO, the BUNYAD Foundation of Lahore, was launched last year.
The five-month pilot project involved 250 adolescent female learners who were given mobile phones and who received interesting and informative daily text messages in Urdu which they were expected to respond to. The programme was conducted with the help of 10 teachers enlisted by the NGO.
Participants were subsequently evaluated to assess gains in knowledge and learning. At the start of the programme, 57per cent of the girls were graded C and only 28 per cent of the girls managed to score an A. Near the end of the pilot the situation had reversed with more than 60 per cent of girls awarded an A and C grades dropping to 11 per cent.
UNESCO and partners have expanded the programme to include another 1,250 girls in rural areas of four districts of Punjab.
Warren Mellor, Country Director UNESCO said that modern technology could help achieve the goal of universal literacy. He said Pakistan was a signatory to the Dakar Framework of Action for EFA in April, 2000 and has committed to achieving an 86 per cent literacy rate by 2015.
Mr Rashid Khan, President and CEO of Mobilink, said those taking part had shown a marked improvement in their literacy skills and confidence.
“The cell phone holds the key to social development by its very nature and we want to make sure that women are part of this revolution,” he said.