Cell Phones May Improve Literacy Rates in Developing Countries

Smartphone with text and stack of color books

Cell phones may be helping lower illiteracy rates in developing countries. According to a recent study conducted in seven countries, cell phone technology gives people access to a world of books they would not normally have.

The study was conducted by Worldreader and Nokia in seven developing countries: Pakistan, Ghana, India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe.

The study showed that females in particular are benefitting from mobile literature, reading up to six times as often as males in the same area.

It also discovered that parents regularly read to their children from their phones, and that mobile reading makes people feel better about the reading process as a whole.

In areas where physical books are few and far between, cell phones are being used for basic forms of communication. Worldreader’s free mobile reading app has an average of nearly 200,000 users a month, and they have evidence to support that mobile reading is in high demand in developing countries.

Elizabeth Hensick Wood, Worldreader’s director of digital publishing and mobile platforms, said in a statement, “We now have two years of data proving that people are spending hundreds of hours a month reading short and long form text, using basic feature and Android phones.”

“A key conclusion from this study is that mobile devices can help people develop, sustain and enhance their literacy skills,” said Mark West from UNESCO. “This is important because literacy opens the door to life-changing opportunities and benefits.”

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of SaveOnPhone.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.