The Managing Director of JobSearch, Edleen Elba, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Africell’s Shadi Gerjawi on Monday 8th February at Africell’s office, 25 Bathurst Street.
In her statement, Edleen said the Africa Literacy Project, with particular emphasis on the pilot program, is one that is meant to help improve literacy in the country.
She said the number of illiterate people in Sub-Saharan Africa, the part of the continent reported as having one of the world’s lowest literacy rates, is 213 million. In 2018, the average world literacy rate was 86%, while Sub-Saharan Africa’s was just 67%.
“Sierra Leone has a literacy rate of 43%, with 58% of the male population being literate, compared to 42% of the female population. 63% of persons with disabilities have never attended school. This is the problem The Africa Literacy Project seeks to solve.”
Edleen Elba noted that the Africa Literacy Project is a partnership between Platform Capital Group and JobSearch that collaborates with governments, literacy centres, private sector organisations, development partners and TVET providers to offer literacy courses en masse to vulnerable social groups.
“The Africa Literacy Project’s goal is to teach functional literacy skills to 100 million Sub-Saharan Africans by 2030. Our pilot program, funded by Diatom Impact in partnership with Freetown City Council and Africell, seeks to teach functional literacy skills to 250 female traders and domestic workers, 125 persons with disabilities and 125 youth in Freetown using a mobile phone. Training will be delivered using Cell-Ed’s unique technology (a voice and text-based app) that offers 3–5-minute micro-modules via SMS app and WhatsApp. For our pilot, we will use only WhatsApp. Content will introduce learners to the alphabet, phonetics, numbers, reading and writing skills, life skills and COVID-19.”
Making his comments, Mr Gerjawi said Africell wants to make public their commitment to the Africa Literacy Project.
“As explained clearly by Edleen, the project is targeting 500 market women, youth and persons with disabilities in Freetown. The aim is to teach functional literacy skills by Leveraging on the existing mobile technology to scale literacy projects across Africa. Sadly, the data provided shows Sierra Leone is among the countries in the world with the lowest adult literacy rate. According to the most recent data by World Bank over 50% of the population are illiterate and according to UNESCO report in 2018, 58% of adult women were recorded as illiterate.”
He said Africell is elated to know that the project is starting in Sierra Leone, and as one of the biggest mobile operators in the country, they are pleased to be partnering with JobSearch and Freetown City Council to roll out the pilot phase of this project by contributing to the education and learning of these women, young people and people living with disabilities. Africell has and will continue to support projects by Sierra Leoneans for Sierra Leone.
“Our support to this project will be in the following forms data (MB), human resource, equipment, advertising and media space. Africell will provide up to 1,000GB worth of data to participants and coaches as and when required. Africell shall from our HR department provide up to 10 employees to volunteer as coaches for the pilot and we shall donate 214 mobile phones and free SIM cards for all non-Africell participants for the pilot program.”
The Managing Director averred that Africell through AfriRadio shall grant access to the project for media appearances and free promotion on AfriRadio based on the available existing programs schedule. They will also base their schedules postings, make available their social media pages to promote all activities relating to the programs and events of this project, and will also be actively involved in the production of artwork as requested by the organiser to promote activities during the pilot program.
Mr Sallieu Kanu representing the Mayor said they are happy to be part of the project, and will continue to support to make this pilot phase a success.
He said Africa will never be fully developed if a huge proportion of its population cannot think critically and make informed decisions, especially in the areas of politics and finance. “It is our responsibility as literate adults to ensure that we include more people to exercise their right to literacy. We need to act, and we need to do it quickly.”