3. Isn't there significant anecdotal evidence to suggest that many of those classified as "illiterate" are in fact quite literate in terms of the use of cell phone technology?
1. The "illiterate" women could read English numbers (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) and knew what they represented.
2. Every BISP recipient could identify the different notes in her currency. The denominations are written in the English number system, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, etc., so that reinforces their comprehension of numbers.
3. None of the women we spoke with could read or write Urdu script.
4. Photographs were used to communicate instructions to "illiterate" women on how to use ATMs. . The BISP women were confident and eager to use an ATM after they were shown a series of photographs showing each step of the process.
These findings confirm the UNESCO strategy in Pakistan and other developing countries to use cell phones for boosting literacy rates.
UNESCO’s own study of mobile reading was conducted in 2013-14 in seven developing countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The report, Reading in the Mobile Era, highlights that hundreds of thousands of people currently use mobile technology as a portal to text. Findings show that in countries where illiteracy rates are high and physical text is scarce, large numbers of people read full-length books and stories on rudimentary small screen devices.
Drawing on the analysis of over 4,000 surveys and corresponding qualitative interviews, the UNESCO study found that:
• large numbers of people (one third of study participants) read stories to children from mobile phones;
• females read far more on mobile devices than males (almost six times as much according to the study);
• both men and women read more cumulatively when they start reading on a mobile device;
• Many neo- and semi-literate people use their mobile phones to search for text that is appropriate to their reading ability.
Since 2009, UNESCO Islamabad, BUNYAD Foundation (NGO) and Mobilink Pakistan (mobile phone company) are jointly implementing a project called "Mobile-Based Post-Literacy Program" (MBLP) to address the literacy retention problem of newly literates, specifically young and adult females.
Let's hope Pakistan's public and private sectors will make full use of technology, particularly mobile phone technology accessible to more than three-quarters of the people, to accelerate mass literacy in the country.
History of Literacy in Pakistan
Use of Cell Phones For Mass Literacy in Pakistan
3G Rollout in Pakistan
Educational Attainment in Pakistan
Upwardly Mobile Pakistan
Biotech and Genomics in Pakistan
India and Pakistan Contrasted in 2014
Eating Grass-The Making of Pakistani Bomb
Educational Attainment Dataset By Robert Barro and Jong-Wha Lee
Quality of Higher Education in India and Pakistan
Developing Pakistan's Intellectual Capital
Intellectual Wealth of Nations
Pakistan's Story After 64 Years of Independence
Pakistan Ahead of India on Key Human Development Indices