UNESCO-Pearson partnership launches case studies of inclusive digital solutions

Five case studies announced on International Literacy Day

UNESCO-Pearson International Literacy Day

This International Literacy Day UNESCO and Pearson are launching five case studies showing inclusive approaches to digital innovation. The cross-sector research is part of an initiative that aims to spur the development of more accessible technologies to benefit low-literate and low-skilled youth and adults.

Through this partnership, UNESCO  and Pearson are looking to other sectors for promising and proven solutions – whether they’re in agriculture, health, energy and the environment, or government services – so we can generate new ways of thinking about the challenge of closing the global literacy gap.

The five case studies below will be promoted by UNESCO during the International Literacy Day celebrations at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris and are being featured on UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy: Improved Livelihoods in a Digital World portal.  

  • In Malawi, Chipatala cha pa Foni by VillageReach links local communities with government health systems through a toll-free health hotline operated by trained health workers and a tailored messaging service.

  • The hearScreen™ smartphone app, from the hearX Group, is used for early detection of hearing loss. In countries such as South Africa, where numbers of audiologists and health professionals are severely limited, the solution can be administered by community members with low digital skills and literacy.

  • The Talking Book, a ruggedized audio player and recorder by Literacy Bridge, offers agricultural and livelihoods education to deep rural communities in four African countries.

  • In India, Crop Specific Mobile Apps by Jayalaxmi Agrotech deliver agricultural and livestock videos, advice and reminders to farmers’ smartphones though a novel offline distribution model.

  • Also in India, Mobile Vaani by Gram Vaani, is a phone call-based, community-media platform for offline populations in rural areas, used for community mobilisation and social campaigns.

The initiative received 130 applications from 60 countries around the world after issuing a call for case studies this past January. The 14 finalists represent multiple sectors and together illustrate a broad range of digital solutions to help people participate more effectively in a knowledge society.

Based on these case studies and a digital trends analysis, the UNESCO-Pearson initiative will develop specific guidelines for technology providers, technical and financial partners, and governments to create more inclusive, accessible and usable digital solutions and policies with the ultimate goal of helping close the global literacy gap by 2030 and meeting a major commitment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNESCO and Pearson will carry on working with each of the finalists and will be launching the remaining case studies over the coming months.