A global movement is building to get more girls into school and learning through technology. Tech companies big and small are looking for ways to overcome the barriers and stigmas that prevent girls from accessing and completing their education. 33 million girls don’t go to school at all, and millions more aren’t learning and will drop out early. Mobile, social and digital technology has the power to connect girls with opportunity through learning, and in turn meet the growing demand for a skilled workforce worldwide.
Theirworld is a global education charity aiming to transform that picture, and the lives of millions of children worldwide. Both girls and technology are cross- cutting themes running through all that they do, but they aren’t the only ones trying to use technology to keep girls learning. They want to connect all these initiatives together, and bring new ones on board, to make one unified, global movement.
Create a brand to connect initiatives, organisations, and campaigns worldwide, with the single goal of using technology to get and keep girls in school and learning. It should inspire the use of technology to benefit the most vulnerable girls in the world. And it should be an umbrella under which a diverse range of companies and groups can unite to advance the cause.
To successfully answer the brief, it was important to thoroughly explore Theirworld and other education charities to understand what they do. Once I had established an in-depth knowledge, I looked into the need of these initiatives and campaigns. The information I found was hard-hitting and somewhat shocking, from then I knew that I wanted to use the brand as an online community.
65 million girls are not getting the education that they deserve. However, very few people know this. Information in relation to education in developing countries seemed to either be limited or difficult to find. The same statistics appeared of various sites, but in regards to in depth information, there was very little, compared to what I thought I might have found.
BARRIERS TO EDUCATION
The kidnap of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok , northern Nigeria, last April , demonstrated the risks that seeking education in developing countries can pose . Pakistan has suffered more terrorist attacks on schools than any other . A Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar last December killed over 130 boys and 9 teachers. In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which includes Peshawar , over 1000 schools have been destroyed in the last 5 years. Largely due to the current civil war, 400,000 Syrian school-age children between three and 18 remain out of school .
In response to the continued violence , the Safe Schools Initiative has been launched as a worldwide project to protect the lives and futures of children at risk .
The Chibok kidnappings highlighted the extra danger that girls are in. Over 219 have still not been found , and may well have been dispersed through Africa, sold as domestic slaves or into prostitution. They are also at risk of sexual violence at school itself “School is not necessarily an empowering institution…Being pushed to have sex with teachers is not an uncommon occurrence,” (ibid: 2). Girls are very vulnerable in a patriarchal setting where the majority of students are boys and where abuse is not regulated, (Anzia 2007). Girls are often left at home because they and their parents fear for their safety.
Poverty creates further barriers . For many families it is cost prohibitive to send their children to school including opportunity costs, (Bellew 1992). Because of socially conditioned gender roles, boys are often sent to school so that they can provide for the family while girls stay at home to help with household chores . The majority (70%), of the students removed from school are girls, (Modesti 2009:24). “In Africa, just 46 per cent of girls complete primary school,” (Levine 2006: 129). Girls often have to stay at home for domestic work, while boys are given the opportunity to become educated so they can provide for the family, (Levine 2006: 127).
In northern Nigeria, only 1 girl in 20 will receive a secondary education.
In some regions within the global south, there are laws that require women to get permission from their husbands or fathers in order to get a job or be involved economically, (ibid). In many developing countries boys have higher rates of education than girls. In Yemen, the literacy rate of men is three times that of women, (ibid).
LACK OF ACCESS
Access to education is often restricted in developing countries . “113 million children of primary school age are still not enrolled in school, 94% of which live in developing countries,” (Glewwe 2006: 948). “Less than one youth in two enters junior secondary school and less than one in four enters senior secondary school,” (Verspoor 2008: 2).
In Pakistan , 32 % of children have no access to education . Rural communities often have limited infrastructure and people live like medieval serfs , farming land owned by rich landlords who pay them only enough food to live off and sell the rest of the crop to fund their lavish lifestyles. Many of these landowners are now politicians, who not surprisingly, are resistant to change. Just 10 years ago, the Pakistani minister for education was uneducated himself !
One million children in Kenya regularly do not attend school; 2012/13 UNESCO Global Monitoring Report (GMR)
In Togo, girls are sold as domestic servants to raise money for the family. Agents (known as Ogas ) who supply these girls to wealthier families are paid retainers and can make up to £ 168 pounds a year if they have enough girls working for them .
BENEFITS OF EDUCATING GIRLS
A study illustrates that for every additional year of education the adult population has on average, a country’s economic growth will increase by 3.7%, (ibid)
Girl’s education has “proven to be one of the most cost-effective strategies to promote development and economic growth. Studies have shown that educated mothers tend to have healthier, better nourished babies, and that their own children are more likely to attend school; thus helping break the vicious cycle of poverty.”
“There are 600 million adolescent girls in the developing world. They are an undeniable force for social and economic impact. But only if given the opportunity. Around the world, girls are denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal and political factors. And in being denied an education, society loses one of its greatest and most powerful resources. Education empowers girls to raise their voices, to unlock their potential, and to demand change.”
Educating girls reduces poverty and improves family health and welfare in third world countries. It brings down fertility rates, family size,and HIV infection rates . And these benefits are passed on to the girl’s family The more a girl is educated, the more able she is to get a job , make a better living for herself and support her family.
In a girl’s lifetime her overall income can increase by 20% as a result of having a primary education. This is a greater increase than that of boys, (Levine 2006: 128). Families and society benefit more from girls’ education, as women are more likely to reinvest their earnings. “If they make it to the paid workforce, research shows that women send 90 per cent of their income home compared to 30-to-40 per cent for men,” (Toronto Star 2009).
Educating girls reduces poverty and improves family health and welfare in third world countries. It brings down fertility rates, family size,and HIV infection rates . And these benefits are passed on to the girl’s family
In Morocco, 44% of women with no education use contraceptives whereas 66% of women with secondary education or higher use contraception, (Moghadam 2003).
According to the World Bank, “It is estimated that one year of female schooling reduces fertility by 10 percent,” (Fort, 2008).
In developing countries girls often marry young and have children soon after ,and therefore have no time to become educated. “A study of eight sub-Saharan countries covering the period from 1987 to 1999 found that girls’ educational attainment was the best predictor of whether they would have their first births during adolescence,” (Levine 2006).
“Among married Egyptian women ages 25 to 29, for instance, those with no education had married at age 18, on average, and had their first child by age 20; those with a secondary or higher education married at an average age of 23 and had their first child by age 25,” (Moghadam 2003).
Women with higher education have half the number of children, later in their lives.
ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY
Not surprisingly, the prevalence of information and communications technology ( ICT ) is less in poorer societies . Many communities in developing countries lack even electricity, let alone internet access. As with education however, the situation is worse for girls.
UNESCO in partnership with UN Women recently hosted a major international event called Mobile Learning Week to explore how ubiquitous and increasingly affordable mobile technologies can be leveraged to empower women and girls in education and beyond.
Great interest was focussed on gender divides in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The divide is growing in many countries, both developing and developed .
According to Mark West who researches ICT in education as an associate project officer at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris ,there is much work to be done to enhance the reach of mobile technology for girls education, especially in STEM .
” A first step is improving access. Simply put, too few women own and use mobile technology. Worldwide women are 16% less likely to access ICT than men; in low and middle income countries 300 million more men than women have a mobile phone; and in developing countries there are only 3 women online for every 4 men. It is estimated that over 90% of jobs in the future will require ICT skills. So comfort and proficiency with technology is not just a STEM concern, it’s directly tied to employability.
The gender divide in technology is not just a developing country problem. Data indicates that even in rich countries young boys are far more likely to be given technology and encouraged to use it. Tablet computers and smartphones are not just ‘toys for boys.’ And positioning these technologies are male/centric contributes to the deep inequities we see in technology fields. Gigaom recently published a graphical analysis of the gender imbalance at leading technology companies and the figures are startling: over 80 percent of technology jobs at Google, Apple, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter are held by men.
While better access is a vital first step, it’s not the only one. We must also keep a close eye on content. Dangerous gender stereotypes are perpetuated from an early age. Toys targeted to boys tend to encourage technical skills and logic, while toys aimed at girls often do not. A recent Barbie book called “I Can Be a Computer Engineer” contains a page in which Barbie says to herself: “I’m only creating the design ideas. I’ll need Steven’s and Brian’s help to turn it into a real [computer] game.” Needless to say, this book, despite its title, is not exactly showing young girls that they can indeed become computer engineers. Barbie herself should be capable of technically implementing a ‘design idea.’ Data collected from OECD countries shows that if the highest achieving boys and girls were equally confident about their ability in STEM subjects, the gender gap we see in performance would not only narrow but in many instances invert.
UNESCO is working directly to counteract gender stereotypes around technology and help more women and girls gain access to powerful mobile devices such as smartphones. Just a few months ago UNESCO, in partnership with Ericsson and other cooperating organizations, announced a project to leverage mobile data connectivity to improve the literacy and life skills of girls in of Myanmar. This work will ensure that newly available network coverage will be of immediate benefit to girls and women, thereby normalizing female technology use from an early stage.
The Symposium held as part of Mobile Learning Week featured numerous breakout presentations where project managers from around the world explained how they use mobile technology to help women and girls. The event program is perhaps the most up-to-date snapshot of how people around the world are utilising technology for gender empowerment. To borrow just two examples: Uri Ben-Ari explained how his organisation is training women teachers in Israel to productively integrate technology in classrooms, and Njideka Harry detailed how her organisation helps Nigerian women gain access to banking and financial services via mobile devices. Cumulatively these projects point to a promising future in which personally owned mobile technology can help women surmount the ‘digital divide.’
In terms of STEM education, mobile technology, by virtue of being intensely personal can move learning outside of classrooms to more diverse settings. This can fuel a girl’s nascent interest in disciplines like science. As an illustration, existing mobile applications allow botany students to learn about particular plants while inspecting them in their natural habitats. Technology can help give literal meaning to the maxim ‘the world is a classroom.’
The UNESCO Policy Guidelines on Mobile Learning highlighted a project call EcoMobile which allows students to use mobile devices to explore areas surrounding specific ponds in North America. When they arrive at certain locations, the EcoMobile application asks students questions and encourages them to collect data for further investigation. The interactive software, made possible by the integration of GPS technology in mobile devices, dramatically changes the relationship between students and the environment they are studying and fosters high-level thinking, hands-on research and collaboration.
Within the ICT industry, organizations like Strongher, an independent network made up primarily of female employees at the French technology firm Alcatel-Lucent, have helped improve job retention for women. And Intel recently announced that it plans to spend three hundred million dollars over the next five years to improve the gender diversity of its employee base. This is important work and it carries a potential to accelerate gender equality. It also has a profit motive. A great deal of research indicates that more gender and racial diverse organizations perform better.
To bridge persistently wide gender gaps in technology ownership and use, we should do three things:
1) Encourage and normalize technology ownership and use by women and girls.
2) Rally against innocuous sounding-slogans like ‘gadgets for guys’ and un-gender technology.
3) Recalibrate our expectations for girls and ensure women have role models and mentors in technology fields.
These actions will ensure women have similar access to powerful technologies and the confidence to leverage them to improve their lives.”
In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on girls and information and communication technology in the development sector. Large government donors, NGOs and the private sector see girls easing poverty and helping development through ICT.
Girls consider ICT to be a major factor in their personal growth and development, helping them to study , stay informed and earn a living. They say it decreases isolation, helps them acquire new skills, participate in national and global dialogues, learn about taboo subjects (such as reproductive health and HIV), and makes them feel safer and more connected with family and friends, and strengthens self-esteem. They also feel ICT helps them to express themselves, speak in public, and engage with adults to negotiate their needs and rights.
For many girls, access to ICT remains a huge challenge. Gender discrimination, lack of confidence, language and literacy barriers, poverty and restricted mobility due to cultural or safety issues often prevent girls from taking advantage of ICT.
Despite increased availability of mobile phones and internet worldwide, access is often characterised in terms of differences between developed or developing countries or between individual countries. However, opportunities maybe very different within the same city .
An English-speaking Kenyan girl living in an urban high rise with her upper class parents will have more access to ICT than a non-English speaking Kenyan girl with low literacy levels who works long hours cleaning that same flat while she herself lives in a slum. Similarly, the daughter of a local business man and community leader in a village can own a mobile phone but a girl from a poor family cannot.
Gender discrimination is also a factor . Boys can dominate the available ICT. Their confidence to try new things is usually higher. Girls report that boys monopolise ICT equipment and ridicule girls who are using equipment for the first time, making them feel too timid to try again.
If girls and women continue to live in greater poverty, with lower education levels, less access to healthcare and other services, less opportunity to work, and lower status in their societies, chances are that their access and use of ICT will not match that of boys and men.
Getting more girls into school and improving the quality of education could help more girls access and learn to use technology. Finding ways to encourage critical thinking and innovation within the education system and ways for girls to join extra-curricular activities to stimulate new ways of thinking could also help them gain skills for jobs in the ICT sector.
NGOs should advocate and support policies to make internet more accessible and affordable. Libraries and other safe spaces can also help girls and women feel more comfortable to access information and learn how to use technology.
To make it possible for girls to participate fully in their family and communities and at broader levels requires a shift in thinking: social behaviours and attitudes needs to be changed.
Organisations should engage men and boys as allies in this process. When fathers and male peers are aware, engaged and supportive of girls’ development and their rights, they play a very strong role in changing broader norms and perceptions.
Female role models can also help change mentalities. Having a device or new technology in their possession can increase the status and strength of girls and women as role models and enable them to carry out different and important roles in the community.
Offer specific support and opportunities. ICT offers incredible tools for engaging students in the classroom, making teaching more participatory. It encourages student-led research and builds critical media and digital literacy skills in the process. In places where textbooks are old and outdated, the internet can offer ways to connect with current events and up-to-date research.
Adding gadgets to the classroom experience involves more than just having the latest digital devices – consider teaching goals, desired outcomes, and issues like relevance and sustainability before deciding on tools and devices.
Special care needs to be taken to ensure that girls have equal access to equipment. Where ICT cannot be integrated into the classroom or where girls are not in school, it can be brought to them through non-formal education and extra-curricular activities.
UK tech companies deliver e-learning to Kenya’s marginalised girls
The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has announced a ground-breaking strategic partnership with the private sector to deliver e-learning programmes in Kenya to thousands of marginalised girls.
Project iMlango ( derived from the Swahili word, ‘mlango’ which means doorway or portal ) is a first-of-its-kind e-learning partnership, led by global satellite operator Avanti Communications and its partners: sQuid, the smartcard and digital payments system provider; online maths tutoring provider, Whizz Education; and technology NGO, Camara Education. The integrated programme aims to improve learning outcomes for 25,675 marginalised girls across 195 Kenyan primary schools.
The project aims to uniquely address the cultural and financial issues that can lead to reduced school attendance and drop outs, with electronic attendance monitoring and conditional payments to families. At the programme’s core sits an internet learning platform, accessed via high-speed satellite broadband connectivity, where partners provide students with interactive, individualised learning tools.
Project iMlango will deliver:
High-speed satellite broadband connectivity to schools;
Personalised maths tuition with a virtual online tutor, alongside digital learning content for maths, literacy and life skills;
Tuition and support to teachers to use ICT in their teaching;
Electronic attendance monitoring with conditional payments – to incentivise families to send their daughters to school – for use with local merchants;
In-field capacity in IT, technology and support resources;
Real-time project monitoring and measurement;
Lynne Featherstone, International Development Minister at DFID, said:
Education is vital to helping improve the life chances of millions of marginalised girls and protecting them from harmful practises like child and forced marriage. Through this private sector partnership we are able to deliver innovative and cutting edge solutions that mean marginalised girls in Kenya get the education they deserve.
David Williams, Chief Executive at Avanti Communications, commented:
Project iMlango is a unique combination of high-speed satellite broadband and e-commerce technology, supported by interactive educational and IT resources.Directly addressing the societal barriers girls face in attending school, the programme will impact Kenyan girls and their communities on a huge scale.
We are extremely proud to lead such a ground-breaking technical solution and to be working in consortium with such innovative partners. We believe the programme could have significant application across the education sector in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Adam Smith, Chief Executive at sQuid, commented:
We have been preparing the ground for Project iMlango for some time, following the successful deployment of our digital transaction platform in Kenya.
Project iMlango builds on our UK education sector services and on our payments capability in aid environments, and with the programme partners we create a true end-to-end service to tackle a really important set of issues relating to girls education.
Richard Marett, Chief Executive at Whizz Education, commented:
Project iMlango brings together proven innovative learning initiatives and a blend of technology, on the ground experience and best practices to provide a transformative opportunity for marginalised girls to develop their learning, build self-esteem, self-confidence and raise aspirations.
WhizzEducation is proud to participate and contribute to a project in which each child will be given a new opportunity to reach their potential and through that, positively impact the future development of entire communities.
John Fitzsimmons, Chief Executive at Camara Education, commented:
Project iMlango is hugely exciting for Camara Education. It is an honour to work with the Department for International Development for the first time. It is also exciting to work with such a diverse and successful set of companies in the consortium.
In addition, the Monitoring and Evaluation results will, no doubt, demonstrate that when ICT in Education is done properly it has a significant impact on the quality of education. However for all our excitement, it is nothing compared to that of the Kenyan students who will have access to a hugely improved education shortly.
The programme has been designed with the ability to measure and benchmark Project iMlango’s impact in real-time. Data includes daily attendance statistics at the whole school level for over 100,000 children , as well as measurement of access to the learning platform and charting each student’s individual progress over time.
Development (please see sketch book for ideas and other research)
With the research that I had gathered I began to determine the possible identity of the brand. I wrote down what I knew it was supposed to represent and began figuring out what it should stand for. To do this I wrote down related words and selected the most powerful and/or important. I then tried to recreate these in the most simple way possible to try and find elements for the logo. I then began to draw rough ideas for the logo.
I wanted the logo to be uncomplicated, modern and easily recognisable. Many different styles were experimented with, however, the more simple shapes felt more suitable and approachable. Once I had establish some ideas that was was happy with, I re-created these in Illustrator.
The development of the final logo comes from three key brand factors; global, love and the brand name (Bluestocking). Bluestocking is the name of an educated woman. The logo, began as a circle (representing the world), it was then slightly changed to create a rounded heart shape. The design incorporates various elements of the brands values and the letter B for Bluestocking. The flowing continuous movement of the logo symbolises continuous development, community and togetherness. Simplicity was important when designing the logo.
The final logo visual has been designed based on the idea that the world loves girls, but also with the idea of it creating a campaign within itself. By using social media this simple shape can be recreated by everyone, bringing together societies and creating a community of like-minded people who support the right for womens education. This puts Bluestocking in the spotlight, at the forefront of everyone’s minds; strengthening the cause, raising awareness and reaching those in need.
The brand needed an identity that has strong, powerful values that clearly state their beliefs and goals. By revisiting the research that was conducted at the start of the project, I worked on creating a positive brand with a friendly personality.
This brand strives to get girls around the world a quality education with the use of technology. By doing this, these vulnerable children will grow up in a safer environment, with better prospects and a chance to move away from poverty. It will connect initiatives, companies and organisations that share these goals, by giving them a place where they can all come together to achieve better results. Bluestocking creates a unified global movement that will address the issues of schooling for females worldwide. Using the website, people around the world can register to teach the girls, and the girls can register to learn.