UNESCO and UN Women will host Mobile Learning Week in Paris from 23 – 27 February, looking to explore the intersection between technology, educaton and gender.
With a particular focus on empowering young women, the event is designed to look at the ways that mobile technology – from basic handsets to smartphones and tablets - can bridge educational gaps and is structured around four key themes: equitable access, gender-sensitive content and pedagogy, literacy and skills development.
Featuring workshops, a research seminar, a symposium and a policy forum, Mobile Learning Week gathers government officials, representatives of the non-profit and NGO sector as well as those active in education.
The focus on building educational pathways for young girls and women is key: despite general progress in providing primary schooled-aged girls access to education, in some parts of the world, the gender balance in the classroom is still off. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, "...between 1999 and 2010 the ratio of girls in secondary school fell from 83 to 82 girls per 100 boys, and from 67 to 63 girls per 100 boys at the tertiary level'' a UN report found. Women in poor and rural areas are generally less likely to have access to education than men and according to UNESCO, globally two out of every three illiterate adults are women.
While certainly not a silver bullet solution, technology does have a role to play to diversifying the way in which we offer and access education. Web-linked computers have shown success in helping children in slums participate in self-organised learning; tablets assist students in areas where there are no regular, available teachers; and gamification is being used to encourage people to engage further in key topics.
Find out more about Mobile Learning Week by visiting UNESCO's website.