The GSMA and The MasterCard Foundation today released a new report, ‘Shaping the Future – Realising the Potential of Informal Learning Through Mobile’. The report focuses on the needs and aspirations of underserved young people, the barriers they face to education and employment, and how the existence of mobile technology in their lives can enable them to achieve their ambitions. It also highlights opportunities that exist for the industry to develop mobile learning services that can directly benefit underserved young people in developing countries.
“Currently, 69 million young people globally have no access to basic education, while 759 million adults don’t have a formal education – there is clearly a huge opportunity for mobile in addressing this issue,” said Chris Locke, Executive Director, GSMA Development Fund. “Mobile is already playing a key role in development areas such as providing access to banking, health information, and to agricultural services reaching rural farmers. The scale and ubiquity of mobile networks means they are often the only infrastructure in remote and rural areas, and the mobile industry has shown incredible innovative and sustainable approaches to using their networks to aid disadvantaged groups.”
The study took place in 2011 and GSMA researchers interviewed 1,200 underserved young people in Ghana, Uganda, Morocco and Maharashtra in India, to explore the potential of mobile technology to support their education and employment goals. The findings indicate that mobile learning (mLearning) has a unique role to play in reaching those who are outside of the scope of traditional schooling, and who can benefit from access to simple educational programmes. It also points to challenges that limit the uptake of mLearning services, such as cost of services, lack of infrastructure, limitations of basic mobile phones in delivering visual content, and lack of long-term investments in mLearning.
Key findings across the youth from the four countries are as follows:
- Education is one of the three biggest priorities in life for the young people surveyed, with 39 percent naming it as their key priority to providing the financial stability and improved standard of living that they currently lack;
- Only one quarter of participants named the classroom as their primary source of information and education. Friends and family were seen as far more important information sources, named by 41 percent, while 43 percent relied on television;
- One in four said that the number one barrier to accessing educational resources was lack of funds, and in Ghana, this number reached almost half of those surveyed;
- Seventy-four percent of mobile owners surveyed said that it is the number one asset they own and 63 percent believed that they could learn through even a basic mobile device; and
- Eighty-five percent of young mobile users made voice calls every day and 67 percent of respondents believed that calls would be the most desirable method for receiving content such as educational information.