Mobilink Foundation and UNESCO sign agreement to enhance the ‘SMS Based Literacy’ program
Mobilink Foundation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have signed an agreement to enhance the award winning ‘SMS Based Literacy’ program.
The ‘SMS Based Literacy’ program uses Short Messaging Service (SMS) to impart education to learners across Pakistan. The program was conceived by UNESCO Islamabad, who started piloting this project with Mobilink in May 2009. The fourth (4th) phase, in 2013, will include two projects with the first being the continuation of the SMS based literacy initiative for learners with an extended outreach across Punjab, KPK, FATA and Sindh. The second project extends the outreach of the program to help enhance the capacities of participating teachers across Pakistan.
As of 2013, the ‘SMS Based Literacy’ program will be managed under Mobilink Foundation’s flagship ‘mTaleem’ initiative. ‘mTaleem’ aims to provide education to underprivileged communities across Pakistan utilizing resources available to Mobilink Foundation. This includes initiatives such as ‘SMS Based Learning’ and ‘Teach 2 Transform’, which is an innovative program to engage Mobilink Torchbearers (employee volunteers) as teaching assistants in schools across Pakistan.[blockquote cite=”Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata, Director / Representative, UNESCO “] We have come a long way in this public –private partnership with Mobilink and other partners. Earlier when we started, it was only for rural women, but in its upcoming phase we are also using this innovative educational approach for the youth of FATA; off course this would not had been possible without our trusted partners
[blockquote cite=”Bilal Munir Sheikh, Chief Commercial Officer, Mobilink “] The Mobilink Foundation has been the custodian of Mobilink’s Corporate Responsibility initiatives since 2008, with education being one of our primary areas of focus. We look forward to working closely with UNESCO to enhance the impact of this initiative for both learners and teachers over the course of this project. As Pakistan’s leading provider of cellular services, Mobilink is well placed to reach out to communities across Pakistan, especially those that are cut off from the conventional educational system.
In early 2013, the ‘SMS Based Literacy’ program won the GSMA’s Global Mobile Award in the ‘Connected Life Awards’ category, and was acknowledged as the ‘Best Mobile Education or Learning Product or Service’. The program was highlighted by the competition’s jury as an “Excellent and needed mobile initiative with an explicit educational ideology that opens up new learning opportunities for a disadvantaged, rural group.”
UNESCO is United Nations mandated organization working for Education to create learning societies with educational opportunities for all populations and provide expertise and foster partnerships to strengthen national educational leadership and the capacity of countries to offer quality education for all. UNESCO works as an intellectual leader, an honest broker and clearinghouse for ideas, propelling both countries and the international community to accelerate progress towards these goals and facilitate the development of partnerships and monitors progress. UNESCO is pioneering Mobile literacy program in Pakistan since 2009 and have now more than 3000 beneficiaries, to become literate. This year more than 2000 young learners and 200 teachers will benefit from the project. The project not only provides free mobile, and curriculum to the learners but also gives facilities of internet and laptop to its learning centers.
Mobilink is Pakistan’s leading provider of voice and data services. With over 36 million subscribers, Mobilink maintains market leadership with coverage in over 20,000 cities, towns and villages across Pakistan. Mobilink continues to innovate through cutting-edge, state of the art technology, a portfolio of Mobile Financial Services, strongest brands, the largest portfolio of value added services, as well as the country’s largest network with over 9,000 cell sites. The company also has the largest distribution and call center network that enables it to offer wider accessibility and quality customer services across Pakistan
[info]ABOUT MOBILINK FOUNDATION
The Mobilink Foundation is a reflection of the commitment of Mobilink and its employees to reshape lives of the community in which Mobilink operates. Established in 2007, the Mobilink Foundation is a non-profit organization, which provides support for the local community in the areas of health, education, environment and humanitarian assistance. Being a philanthropic organization, it is purely based on employee volunteerism that enables the Foundation to spend every penny directly towards the causes it is associated with. In 2013, Mobilink Foundation became Pakistan’s first and only telecom CR function to be certified by the Pakistan Center of Philanthropy (PCP).
With more than 50 million people illiterate, Pakistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in Asia. There is a large gender gap. The literacy rate for males over 15 years is 63% while that for females it is 42%. One of the primary reasons for this situation is the difficulty of retaining literacy skills of new literates. The program has two parts. In the first, adolescent girls will receive interesting and informative text messages daily in Urdu and are expected to respond. The method is believed to be far more effective than conventional print based post-literacy programs in maintaining the interest and in keeping the literacy skills alive. The second part of the program includes evaluation every month to assess literates’ gains in knowledge, interactive exercises, a glossary of educational terms and additional resources.