Lagos and Freetown, 9 September 2020: As part of their commitment to improving human capital development in Africa, Platform Capital Group – a group comprising Platform Capital, Diatom Impact and Unicorn Group – and JobSearch, a human resources management company in Sierra Leone, are pleased to announce the launch of the Africa Literacy Project.
While education remains a vital conduit for transforming Africa’s resources into sustainable development, illiteracy remains a huge challenge for Africa, with the continent reporting one of the world’s lowest literacy rates. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, approximately 35% of the sub-Saharan population over 15 years of age is illiterate. Without these basic skills necessary for personal growth, those with inadequate levels of literacy cannot be fully involved in social and political discourse, and most importantly, cannot possibly make informed decisions that help shape policies in their communities. This is the problem that The Africa Literacy Project seeks to solve.
Sierra Leone is one of the countries with the highest illiteracy rates in the world. The thematic report on education and literacy from the 2015 population and housing census for Sierra Leone maintains that 40.5% of the male population and 56% of the female population are illiterate.
The Africa Literacy Project is a transcontinental initiative, which has received an endorsement from the President of Sierra Leone, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, who remarked, “My government supports the Africa Literacy Project as a vehicle for improving literacy rates in Sierra Leone. This support is consistent with our firm’s commitment to Human Capital Development and aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4.” The Africa Literacy Project is a digital literacy programme that uses culturally relevant material to train illiterate youth and adults in African countries. The Project aims to leverage mobile technology to scale literacy projects across Africa, starting with a pilot in Freetown, Sierra Leone and further deployment in Nigeria. The pilot programme seeks to teach functional literacy skills to 250 female traders and domestic workers, 125 youth, and 125 persons with disabilities in Freetown this year, with the help of project partners, Cell-Ed, Africell, and Freetown City Council. Following the pilot, the team will work in partnership with development agencies, private sector organisations, and international foundations committed to improving the development and deployment of innovative education and literacy solutions across Africa.
The Africa Literacy Project was launched on International Literacy day, 8 September 2020, with the release of a video and official announcement of the pilot programme. In a statement, the Mayor of Freetown, Mrs. Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE, wrote “We are excited about the opportunity to collaborate and to be part of such an innovative and impactful intervention. The Africa Literacy Project will facilitate the attainment of our Transform Freetown skills development targets whilst empowering Freetonians to fulfill their own potential.”
The Africa Literacy Project intends to work with the Government of Sierra Leone and local councils to increase the number of literate adults across the country by 50,000 by 2023, and 500,000 by 2025 after the successful execution of the pilot.
Dr. Akintoye Akindele, CFA, DBA; Chairman, Platform Capital Group commenting on the Project said, “In addition to the beneficial effects of literacy for individuals, programmes such as The Africa Literacy Project serve as vehicles that can stir communities away from cyclic poverty and towards economic empowerment. Education and literacy remain key drivers of development for us on the continent and Platform Capital Group is keen to play a part in driving this.”
Ms. Edleen Elba, Managing Director, JobSearch also remarked, “We recognise the impact an improvement in literacy would have on economic development in Africa. President Bio has prioritised Human Capital Development and Freetown City Council’s Transform Freetown has an initiative to teach functional literacy skills to 15,000 citizens with a focus on women by 2022. Piloting in Freetown therefore seems logical, and we are grateful to the Platform Capital Group for partnering with us to bring our vision to life.”