KARACHI - The Mobilink Foundation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have signed an agreement to enhance the award winning 'SMS Based Literacy Programme.'

An announcement here on Wednesday said that the SMS Based Literacy Programme uses Short Messaging Service (SMS) to impart education to learners across Pakistan.

The programme was conceived by UNESCO Islamabad, who started piloting this project with Mobilink in May 2009.

The fourth phase in 2013 will include two projects with the first being the continuation of the SMS based literacy initiative for learners with an extended outreach across Punjab, KPK, FATA and Sindh.

The second project extends the outreach of the programme to help enhance the capacities of participating teachers across Pakistan.

As of 2013, the 'SMS Based Literacy' programme will be managed under Mobilink Foundation's flagship “mTaleem” initiative which aims to provide education to underprivileged communities across Pakistan utilising resources available to Mobilink Foundation.

This includes initiatives such as SMS Based Learning and 'Teach 2 Transform', which is an innovative programme to engage Mobilink Torch-bearers (employee volunteers) as teaching assistants in schools across Pakistan.

Elaborating on the project, Director/ Representative UNESCO Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata, stated, “We have come a long way in this public- private partnership with Mobilink and other partners.”

"Earlier, when we started it was only for rural women, but in its upcoming phase we are also using this innovative educational approach for the youth of FATA. This would not have been possible without our trusted partners," she said.

Speaking on behalf of Mobilink, their Chief Commercial Officer Bilal Munir Sheikh, said “The Mobilink Foundation has been the custodian of Mobilink's Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives since 2008, with education being one of our primary areas of focus. We look forward to working closely with UNESCO to enhance the impact of this initiative for both learners and teachers over the course of this project. As Pakistan's leading provider of cellular services, Mobilink is well placed to reach out to communities across Pakistan, especially those that are cut off from the conventional educational system."

In early 2013, the SMS-based Literacy' programme won the GSMA's Global Mobile Award in the 'Connected Life Awards' category, and was acknowledged as the 'Best Mobile Education or Learning Product or Service'.

The programme was highlighted by the competition's jury as an excellent and needed mobile initiative with an explicit educational ideology that opens up new learning opportunities for a disadvantaged, rural group.

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