Challenging Illiteracy Through Mobile Phones

The title of the presentation is "Challenging Illiteracy through Mobile Phones". The presentation is mainly about the importance of using mobile phones as tool to eradicate illiteracy in countries like Pakistan. With the population of over 150 million and growth rate of over two per annum, Pakistan’s population looms large in relation to its development. Education is not only a basic human right but also prerequisite for national development. Like other countries with very low rates of literacy, the reasons for the prevailing situation in Pakistan are complex. One main reason is the difficulty of retaining literacy skills of the new literates.

The frequent use of mobiles among youth and young adults in Pakistan and other countries reveals the extent of their dependence on mobile phones as a means of accessing information, learning and communication. The pleasure young people derive from reading and sending messages and information via a mobile phone makes it a natural learning tool for them. It is said that there are 95 million people who have mobile phones in Pakistan.

Bunyad Foundation implemented a project which was related particularly with the literacy retention problem among the youth and the problem of keeping them motivated to further consolidate their literacy skills. It found a solution in mobile phones, which have become the most desired daily means of communication among the young people. 

Total illiterate rural women living in the depths of deprivation in distance village, often having no road or facilities, were empowered by learning via mobile phones, giving them chance to see the new vistas which take them out of poverty.

The main objective of the project is to develop a mobile-based, distance literacy programme where the neo-rural literates receive literacy materials as messages in their mobile and read, write and respond to them. The method is assumed to be far more effective than conventional print material-based literacy programmes in keeping up the literates’ interest in literacy via this rapid communication.

The Presentation will consist of following slides: Brief about Pakistan, Background etc, Literacy situation, reasons of low literacy, importance of mobiles, experience of literacy through mobile phones, project implemented, methodology, strengths, lesson learnt, challenges faced and recommendations.

Ms Shaheen Attiq ur Rahman

Ms Shaheen attiq ur Rahman worked as a Minister of Social Welfare, Women Development and Bait- ul –Mall for the development of society, as Chairperson of Red Cross to deal with the disasters + rehabilitation and as Chairperson of Punjab Social Services Board, built the capacity of about 5000 NGOs. Being a development worker participated at national as well as international level in policy making especially in education and development sectors. Being an executive member of Bunyad Foundation, expertise was recognized at national as well as at international level by receiving awards (Comenius Medal, UNESCO, Paris, 1998 for innovative work in literacy, King Sejong Literacy prize, UNESCO, Paris, 2002 and Aizaz –e-Fazialt, Presidential Award) in the field of literacy and development for innovative ideas and to make a progress in the achievements of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Being a development worker, has 20 years experience especially in the fields of literacy, education, gender, and women empowerment.

Bunyad Literacy Community Council Implemented 3 phases of Mobile Based Literacy Programme(Supported by UNESCO) under her supervision and made 2,750 rural female literate so far.

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