United Nations underscored the importance of combating inequalities in education in its Sustainable Development Goals (Post 2015 Agenda) as the proposed SDG 4 suggests the international community to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030”.
In Nepal, the literacy rate for the total population is 57.4 % which shows that the inequalities still persist (CIA World Factbook). Significant portion of the population have been deprived of learning opportunities due to various reasons including early marriage, gender inequalities, social and family pressure to engage into economic activities at an early age etc. Research also suggests that in developing countries, there is very low self esteem among people who are illiterates or semi literates.
In this digital world, they are even at greater disadvantage. Those with the least amount of schooling will find it increasingly more difficult to participate in the evolving knowledge-based societies, deepening the social divide (Reimers, 2000). There needs to be an innovative approach to match both the education and technological gap. Recent development in the mobile technology provides us with great opportunities to fill this gap.
The mobile devices offer both affordability and storage capacity which makes it possible to equip with different types of educational content. There are over 5 billion mobile subscribers worldwide today –an astounding number considering the world’s current population which is roughly 6.8 billion (ITU, 2010). The rapid proliferation of mobile technologies throughout the world has brought substantial attention to the potential to leverage the power of these new technologies to address decades old problems, including educational inequalities (see Keen and Mackintosh, 2001; Ling, 2004).
Product / Technology Concept
The ICT tool (Android application) for the training will have different components for learning, assessments, data-collection and data-analysis. The idea is to make the application interactive and to reflect a game-environment where users will be motivated by game elements such as unlocking levels (lessons) as they complete certain tasks. The lessons will be based on the UNESCO’s newly-literate book (Mathani) for Awadhi language (Part-2). However, certain levels from Part-1 will also be added as a means to bridge their previous knowledge.
Some of the lessons that will be included for the pilot are as follows:
1. Word formation
2. Basic math (addition and subtraction)
3. Paragraph reading
4. Paragraph listening
5. Word math
7. Filling forms, writing letters etc.
Some forms of assessments/practice lessons that will be included in the pilot are as follows:
1. Android drawing canvas
2. Multiple choice questions
3. True/False questions
4. Filling in the blanks
5. Writing lessons
The following user data will be collected within the application with the assumption that every learner will have a personal device to work on:
1. User information
2. Level progression data
3. Demographic data
4. Application usage data
5. Performance data
6. Location data
The data can be synced in real-time if Internet connectivity is not an issue. However, in places where connectivity can be a problem, or it is expensive, an alternative approach where data is synced periodically can be utilized.