UNESCO-Pearson initiative for literacy announces finalists for case studies on inclusive digital solutions

©Medic Mobile/Lester Ng.

UNESCO Section for Youth, Literacy and Skills Development announced the 14 case study finalists that will be part of the UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy: Improved Livelihoods in a Digital World.

In January, UNESCO and Pearson issued a call for case studies on innovative digital solutions that are serving low-skilled or low-literate youth and adults to help them participate more effectively in a digital economy and knowledge society. UNESCO received 130 applications from 60 countries around the world and reviewed them based on a set of criteria to arrive at the final list.

Case study finalists

Together, these 14 case studies will illustrate a broad range of digital solutions, including e-services for health; agriculture; government; climate change; and migrants and refugees. 

For improved healthcare, Chipatala cha pa Foni links local communities with government health systems through a toll-free health hotline operated by trained health workers and a tailored messaging service. HearScreen is a smartphone application used in 25 countries for early detection of hearing loss, which can be administered by community members with low literacy and digital skills. Khushi Baby combines mobile health, wearable technology and cloud computing to produce a holistic solution for maternal and child health in India.

MIRA Channel offers health edutainment on feature phones to engage and educate semi-literate rural women and connects them with nearby public health centres. In rural Nepal, Medic Mobile is a suite of web- and SMS-based tools for community-based care coordination by frontline health workers, often with low-literacy levels and training themselves, reminder messaging for mothers, and a cloud-based dashboard for district health officials.

In addition to digital health information services, agricultural e-services include the Talking Book Program, a provider of agricultural and livelihoods education through audio content and an innovative player solution for underserved communities. 3-2-1 Service serves local-language audio-based information to low-literate users on their mobile phones in a number of African countries. Crop Specific Mobile Apps deliver agricultural videos and advice to farmers’ smartphones though a novel offline distribution model.

For government engagement from the ground-up, the finalist is Mobile Vaani, a phone call-based, community-media platform for offline populations in rural areas, used for community mobilisation and social campaigns. In Mozambique, MOPA empowers any citizen to report waste issues to the Maputo municipality and receive feedback through a participatory digital reporting and monitoring platform.

For greener living and climate change services, the Nano Ganesh mobile phone-based remote control and monitoring system for agriculture water pumps supports sustainable consumption of resources for low-literate farmers. Small-scale fishers, many with low education levels, can more sustainably manage their operations through a co-designed suite of mobile apps called ABALOBI. In Guatemala, the Farmer Training App helps low-literate users to track and share their farming practices, and access training modules.

Migrant people, including refugees, can be particularly vulnerable in their host countries. The Hello Hope / Merhaba Umut service by Turkcell supports Syrian refugees in Turkey with real-time translation, language learning and information on essential services, via automated or human intervention.

Digital solutions to include low-skilled and low-literate youth and adults

Over the coming months UNESCO will work with each of the finalists to develop its case study, which will be published on the UNESCO website. The first batch of case studies will be presented at International Literacy Day on the 8th of September 2017, the theme of which is ‘Literacy in a Digital World’.

The UNESCO-Pearson initiative will develop specific guidelines based on the 14 case studies and a trends analysis. The guidelines will be used by digital solution providers, technical and financial partners and governments to illustrate how inclusive digital technology can enable low-skilled or low-literate people in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and contribute to closing the global literacy gap by 2030.

The collaboration between UNESCO and Pearson is part of the Project Literacy movement. 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 sign up for the newsletter to stay informed of progress. Visit UNESCO’s webpage to read more about UNESCO’s work in promoting literacy.

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