ICT4Education: Promoting literacy with mobile phones in rural Papua New Guinea: The World Bank is supporting a number of development projects and has activities in both the ICT and education sectors in Papua New Guinea, popularly known as PNG. Australia also provides a huge support to the education sector in PNG.
An article published by Michale Trucano in the World Bank blogs title “Promoting literacy with mobile phones in rural Papua New Guinea” gives an insight of how people in Papua New Guinea use their mobile phones to boost and promote literacy in the country.
Among other things, PNG faces vexing (and in some instances, rather unique) circumstances related to remoteness (overland travel is often difficult and communities can be very isolated from each other as a result; air travel is often the only way to get form one place to another: with a landmass approximately that of California, PNG has 562 airports — more, for example, than China, India or the Philippines!) and language (PNG is considered the most linguistically diverse country in the world, with over 800 (!) languages spoken). The PNG education system faces a wide range of challenges as a result. PNG ranks only 156th on the Human Development Index and has a literacy rate of less than 60%. As an overview from the Australian government notes,
“These include poor access to schools, low student retention rates and issues in the quality of education. It is often hard for children to go to school, particularly in the rural areas, because of distance from villages to schools, lack of transport, and cost of school fees. There are not enough schools or classrooms to take in all school-aged children, and often the standard of school buildings is very poor. For those children who do go to school, retention rates are low. Teacher quality and lack of required teaching and educational materials are ongoing issues.”
Mobile phones can be really helpful in development sectors for a country if used wisely. This, SMS Story research project in Papua New Guinea has become valuable in determining ICT for Education (ICT4Education and ICT4Literacy) indicators and learning how literacy can be promoted in a third world country like PNG.
Please, read the full WB blog post here to learn more about mobile phone usages in the education development sector in PNG, while the SMS Story impact assessment report summary can be read here in pdf document.