21.03.2017 - Education Sector

Focusing on inclusive digital solutions for low-skilled and low-literate displaced people

© Internews Europe

This year’s Mobile Learning Week, UNESCO’s flagship ICT in education conference currently taking place in Paris, is focused on ‘Education in emergencies and crises’.

Organized in partnership with UNHCR and ITU, Mobile Learning Week examines how new and affordable technologies can reinforce education in emergency and crisis contexts, and expand learning opportunities and inclusion for displaced people.

The UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy: Improved Livelihoods in a Digital World is participating at the conference. The initiative seeks to determine how digital solutions, outside of the traditional education lens, can better include low-skilled and low-literate youth and adults into the digital economy and knowledge society in order to help close the global literacy gap by 2030.

Senior Project Officer for the UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy, Steven Vosloo, will co-present initial findings from an upcoming trends analysis, which includes a special focus on e-services and inclusive digital solutions for low-literate and low-skilled migrants and refugees.

“There are many e-services for the refugee lifecycle today: from pre-departure and transit, to settling in and long-term integration,” he says. “But without being usable by low-skilled and low-literate users, these groups are denied the related benefits.”

While digital services become increasingly important for migrant and refugee support, the trends analysis has found there are insufficient services targeted at low-skilled and low-literate users.

Low literacy levels are the second-biggest barrier to connectivity for refugees

Some of the opportunities that inclusive digital solutions can bring to migrants and refugees are vital communication and information sharing, access to learning, making payments and receiving financial support, and getting health information and psychosocial support. However, the lack of literacy skills constrains refugee communities. Along with cost, low literacy levels comprise the second-biggest barrier to connectivity for refugees (UNHCR, 2016).

Today, approximately 758 million adults, including 115 million youth worldwide, cannot read or write (UIS, 2015) which results in a severe lack of skills needed to benefit from digital technologies. The collaboration between UNESCO and Pearson is part of the Project Literacy movement.

"Literacy is a critical pathway for making progress on development more broadly,” says Jennifer Young, director of social impact programs at Pearson. “Through this partnership with UNESCO, we are looking to other sectors for promising and proven solutions – whether they’re in agriculture, health, energy and the environment or government services – so we can generate new ways of thinking about the challenge of closing the global literacy gap."  

Project Literacy brings together a diverse and global cross-section of people and organizations to help unlock the potential of individuals, families and communities everywhere with the vision that by 2030, no child will be born at risk of poor literacy.

Learn more about the UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy: Improved Livelihoods in a Digital World and Mobile Learning Week.  

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