COL President speaks about using technology for literacy

Reading Time: 3 min read

COL President and CEO Professor Asha Kanwar participated in the General Meeting of UNESCO’s Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL). Held under the theme of “GAL in times of the COVID-19 crisis and beyond,” the two-day event aimed to review the impact of the pandemic on youth and adult literacy as well as the national education response plans and strategies. Identifying areas of support and specific initiatives to respond to new realities in light of the GAL strategic goals was another key objective.

In her presentation ‘Technologies for Literacy,’ Professor Kanwar shared examples of COL’s interventions in response to the current crisis. “The COL approach has been to use technologies that are available, affordable and accessible—anything from the printed text to online options,” she said.

She spoke about the use of community radio as a means of reaching the last mile in many Commonwealth countries and the audio lessons to farmers via basic mobiles phones. Other examples include training Indian artisans and weavers in various aspects of e-commerce and ensuring learning continuity in the remote atolls of the Pacific via COL’s low-cost Aptus device.

Professor Kanwar concluded by noting that COL has learned three important lessons from these interventions—first, that technology by itself will not promote literacy unless it is placed in an appropriate social, political and economic context. Second, literacy must be seen as part of the whole development process. Third, the social capital of the community is essential to the success of any literacy intervention.

The full presentation is available here.

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