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MOPHILE: Mobile phones to increase literacy rate

Use the mobile phone to increase literacy rate in those countries where mobile penetration is greater than literacy rate.

Photo of Marcos Garcia Caravantes
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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

In some countries, mobile penetration is greater than literacy rate!!! Increasing the literacy rate will benefit every aspect of a community, including urban slum communities, impacting everyday life, as well as resilience in the event of disasters: Better communication, better understanding of risks, available helping measures, best practices to be proactively prepared. The overall literacy rate in 10 countries included in the urban resilience challenge eligible countries list is below 60%. The striking insight is that mobile penetration is greater than the literacy rate in 19 of the eligible countries. Our idea is to use the mobile phone to increase the literacy rate. Each time a o person has to use the telephone, after unlocking it, a learning challenge that can be solved really fast is presented. As you play, the telephone learns your level and presents new challenges according to it. Gamification is a key aspect: sharing with friends and enjoyability. For most languages, there are 750 words used widely and every day. Unlocking the phone 10 times a day could make you learn a substantial part of those 750 words in a relative short time. Some apps, such as DuoLingo, successfully use this technique to help people learn foreign languages. There are smartphones below 40$ on the market, and projects with a target price below 10$. With those numbers, some countries and/or organizations can subsidize (or even give away?) the mobile terminals.

WHO BENEFITS?

This is a very long term project and the benefits will be in the long term. The beneficiaries are the people using the smartphones to increase their literacy rate and overall education level, and the communities hosting them. The initial target country to implement the idea is Nepal. Literacy rate is 66%, mobile penetration 83%, the government is already running plans to increase literacy rate and the socio-political situation is stable.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?

On the side of urban slum communities: Mobile penetration is greater than literacy in some countries. This is a fact. Moreover, mobile penetration grows faster than literacy. On the side of authorities of those communities and the countries where they belong: Authorities are setting policies to increase literacy rate On the side of global context: UNESCO recognizes literacy is a right and advocates about the benefits of literacy ("Education for All. Global Monitoring Report", UNESCO, 2006).

IN-COUNTRY EXPERIENCE

  • Not yet

EXPERTISE

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

  • Yes

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

Engineer, climber, curious. My professional profile on Linkedin: https://es.linkedin.com/in/garciacaravantes

4 comments

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Photo of mHS CITY LAB
Team

Interesting situation and idea. Is your plan to just subsidize or give away free mobile phones? How will you encourage usage of the literacy app? What percentage of recipients actually use the literacy app? Has this been piloted somewhere?

Photo of Marcos Garcia Caravantes
Team

Thanks for your comment.
We do not know a previous pilot to improve literacy, but we know that people use similar apps to successfully learn foreign languages.
There are two ways to go ahead:
1) Promote the app in target communities, so that people will install it in the telephone they already have and use it. In this scenario, encouraging to use the app is critical (yet to be designed).
2) Subsidize or give away cheap (10$-30$) mobile phones and factory-set them to always present the challenge after unlocking. This way the user gets a free/cheap telephone, and has to always use the app, because it cannot be disabled.

Photo of mHS CITY LAB
Team

Do you think there are any ethical issues with requiring the use of the app on the phone and not allowing it to be disabled? How will you be disclosing about the app usage requirement in order to receive a free phone?

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