Mobile technology facilitates literacy in developing countries: UNESCO

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© Worldreader, A woman helps a young girl read on a mobile phone, while other children look on in interest. UNESCO@PHOTO

Mobile technology is facilitating literacy in developing countries, according to a report by the United Nations cultural agency (UNESCO).

The report, "Reading in the Mobile Era" was published on the occasion of World Book and Copyright Day, which is observed on 23 April each year.

It found that people read books on small screen devices in countries where illiteracy rates are high and physical material is scarce.

Mark West, one of the authors of the report, says one of the advantages of mobile books is their cost.

"In terms of cost, the price of a mobile book is usually between two and three cents, if it's an open copyright book. The cost of a comparable paperback is about U.S. $10. That means that mobile reading is about three to five-hundred times cheaper than reading a physical text. We also know the physical text is very difficult to distribute in remote areas where illiteracy rates are low, yet mobile devices have penetrated in these areas." (26")

UNESCO estimates that worldwide, over 770 million people, including 123 million youth cannot read or write. It says illiteracy can often be traced to the lack of books.

At the same time, according to the International Telecommunication Union, of the 7 billion people on Earth about 6 billion have access to a working mobile phone.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations.

Duration: 1’26″

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