According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), 26 percent of the world’s population is illiterate and 98 percent of these people live in developing countries. Africa as a continent that has a literacy rate of less than 60 percent.

MXit as of a week ago launched Africa’s first MBook in order to help with the decreasing illiteracy and to encourage literacy and a passion of reading amongst the youth internationally.

mxit image

MXit’s (pronounced “mix it”) first MBook is Emily and the Battle of the Veil, a fantasy novel based on a 13-year old South African girl, written by Karen Brooks.

The novel can be downloaded for ZAR13.50, which is far more reasonable than buying traditional books and can be read at the user’s own time and convenience on the mobile phone.

In 2004 Mxit started off as a free instant messaging software application developed in South Africa (SA), that runs on GPRS/3G mobile phones and on PCs. It allows the user to send and receive smses or multimedia messages to and from other users, as well as chat rooms.

mxit-iphone

MXit opens doors

I believe this initiative (of introducing the Mbook) is breaking the status quo of the traditional publishing industry, as well as giving young readers and aspiring writers an opportunity to read new literature or showcase their work in a digital format. Furthermore MBook is environmentally friend, no trees are being cut down.

The launch of MXit’s MBook follows the launch of an online South African maths initiative called Imfundo Yami Imfundo Yethu (My education is our education). This joint effort by Nokia South Africa, MXit, a Finnish company and SA’s Department of Education is piloting a new education project that delivers mathematics tutorials to Grade 10 learners via MXit. They will receive 15 questions on the MXit channel and tackle problems to find mathematical solutions. MXit will be like an affordable and instant tutor.

mxit userSteve Vosloo, a Communication and Analytical Skills Fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation in his thought leader blog posted that he believes that “this time- and space-shifting effect means that learners, and higher education students, can have classroom-like experiences when it suits them, not just during school hours when one educator is shared with 30 or 40 other learners. For many young people in South Africa, this might be the only opportunity they have to access qualified educators”.

This just shows that social networks can educate and bring people together. Mxit along with it’s initiatives will draw the young and perhaps old into reading again. Will this open other social networking and media doors. I trully hope so because many are migrating to mobile media and such initiatives can benefit communities. I also think media houses can learn a thing or two from Mxit and start developing mobile media strategies that will engage with both the young and old.

Students in SA can access Maths on MXit via MXit on 079 992 3960. Futureye signing out.

Post last updated and corrected on 19th October 2009.

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