In Malawi, “boys outnumber the girls in school attendance by a 6:1 ratio” even though primary education is free. At the same time, recent Malawian communities have seen mobile phones dramatically increase in usage. This project aims to leverage this technology to help young girls increase their literacy skills. An MMS Assisted Reading System will aid girls in educating themselves through text messages from home by delivering short story interactive lessons. Once the MMS Assisted Reading System is created, the second part of the project will be beta testing with a group on 15 Malawian girls during a three-week trial. Thereinafter, the data and feedback from this trial will serve to improve the system. The creation and trial implementation will help overcome the gender-based barriers that girls face in Malawian communities in attaining a literacy education since the MMS system will provide an alternative delivery of textual, visual, and audio reading content that can also be based on grade level or progress. By addressing the illiteracy issues in this way, young girls will have more chances at succeeding professionally, attaining higher wages, and being able to support their families.
(Note: This project originally won in the Big Ideas “Mobiles for Reading” category)