Literacy programme for women traders in Côte d’Ivoire wins 2021 UNESCO prize

The ‘Association of Literacy Teachers Who Use Information and Communications Technology (GA-TIC)’ in Côte d’Ivoire is one of the winners of the 2021 UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy for its programme ‘Functional literacy for traders in Abidjan through the use of ICT’.

GA-TIC is a non-governmental organization specialised in capacity-building of functional literacy through digital technology for women traders in Ivory Coast. Created in 2017, the programme provides rigorous, quality, and needs-based programmes, adapted to the individual and societal needs of learners, through the use of ICT.

Through a capacity-building approach and innovative methods using ICT, the objective of the programme is to empower beneficiaries and help them improve their reading, writing, and arithmetic skills in order to better manage their income-generating activities. Learning was adapted to individual needs in terms of content and timing through hybrid learning techniques.

Between 2018 and 2020, 1 360 students were enrolled in the class, an average of 97 percent of whom were women. The learners had not previously had the chance to go to school, and by the end of the course, they held basic functional literacy skills.

Mr N’guessan Krou Emmanuel, President of GA-TIC, shares that the programme was inspired by the illiteracy situation among traders in the Abidjan district markets. “Despite the goodwill of its enterprising women, the lack of education constitutes a major obstacle to their development, both personally and socioeconomically,” he says. “Likewise, throughout the national territory, illiteracy is much more present among women than among men”.

Around the world, COVID 19 has disrupted the education of millions of learners having great impact on numerous literacy programmes. Without the possibility of face-to-face classes, GA-TIC adopted a self-learning system for their beneficiaries. Each learner was given a smartphone with a literacy app, making it possible for some interaction and encouraging the continuity of learning.

This system also allowed the organisation to collect necessary information for the progress of each learner. Furthermore, GA-TIC also assisted learners via phone calls and supported their emotional difficulties in times of the pandemic.

Mr Emmanuel, says that technology can help improve lifelong learning systems and their programme through additional content, particularly on issues in preventing COVID 19 and other life-saving information. Likewise, applications could be improved by making them more interactive with additional multimedia in order to compensate the lack of physical presence in classrooms.

Beyond receiving the UNESCO Literacy Prize, GA-TIC hopes to expand their programme in Côte d’Ivoire and throughout Africa. They aspire to disseminate its literacy method through awareness-raising and quality training so that authorities can make digital literacy a priority.

To celebrate International Literacy Day, GA-TIC calls on governments and donors to make real investments in literacy, particularly functional literacy through ICT and reaffirms the fundamental role in which literacy plays for the development of every nation.

This year’s UNESCO International Literacy Prizes will be awarded to six outstanding literacy programmes from Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Mexico and South Africa on the occasion of International Literacy Day. UNESCO will host a two-day online International Conference on 8 and 9 September. A special session with the Laureates of this year’s Prizes 2021 will be held on 9 September highlighting ‘inclusive distance and digital learning’.

 

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