UNESCO advises to go mobile to improve literacy in developing countries

unesco-reading-mobileFacebook and Google, who both have been investing huge in drones to bring mobile connection to the underdeveloped regions in the world, happen to share same ambitions with UNESCO, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: To grow the use of mobile devices across the world.

A new report by UNESCO says that mobile devices, especially the most basic ones, can be perfect tools to promote literacy among people living in the poorest parts of the world.

The report, Reading in the Mobile Era, which is the first-ever study of mobile reading in developing countries, says that small screen mobile devices, like monochrome feature phones, are almost the only way to reach text in underdeveloped regions. Published today on the occasion of World Book and Copyright Day, the report urges nations to use mobile technology to help spread reading and literacy.

The researchers surveyed 4,000 people in seven developing countries, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda and Zimbabwe and found out that large numbers of people in countries where illiteracy rates are high and physical text is almost unavailable read books and stories on simple small screen devices. Findings show that at least one third of the participants read stories to their children from their mobile.

According to the study, 774 million people in the world, including 123 million youth, cannot read or write mostly because of the lack of books and educational texts. Most people in Sub-Saharan Africa, it says, do not own a single book, and schools in this region rarely provide textbooks to learners.

On the other hand, mobile technology is increasingly common, with 6 billion out of world’s 7 billion people having, or access to, a working mobile phone; And that includes people in the poorest regions too.

The surveys also shows the number of men benefiting mobile reading in developing countries are three times more than the women, but the women who read on their mobiles do that six times more than men in average. Both men and women read more cumulatively when they start reading on a mobile device.

The infographic below shows some basic findings of the report. You can also watch the interview with Mark West, one of the authors of the report, at the bottom.

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