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Mobile devices playing big part in promoting literacy in developing countries, says study

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Mobile devices are playing a big role in promoting literacy and getting people reading in developing countries, according to the biggest survey on mobile reading.

The report, released by UNESCO in collaboration with Worldreader and Nokia, states mobile phones are significantly boosting literacy skills in Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe. The survey polled nearly 5,000 people living in those seven developing countries.

"Mobile reading is not a future phenomenon but a right-here, right-now reality," states the survey results.

The top tomes favored by readers include Animal Farm, Romeo and Juliet, Twilight and Harry Potter.

"Mobile reading can open educational opportunities to nearly seven billion people, ultimately reducing illiteracy rates forever. In places where physical books are scarce, mobile phones are plentiful. And while mobile phones are still used primarily for basic communication, even the simplest of phones are a gateway to long-form text," states a release on the survey.

"We now have two years of data proving that people are spending hundreds of hours a month reading short and long form text, using basic feature and Android phones," said Elizabeth Hensick Wood, director of digital publishing and mobile platforms at Worldreader. The report is available for reading here.

"As part of this research, we interviewed dozens of individuals, ranging from students to teachers to parents, and all told a similar story: they do not have access to paper books, they are thrilled to now have thousands of free books on their mobile phones and they are now reading more than ever," she added.

The study reveals girls and women are getting the most benefit from a mobile device approach to reading and are reading up to six times more than men and boys.

United Nations data reveals that of the estimated 7 billion living on Earth, over 6 billion now have access to a mobile phone.

 "A key conclusion from this study is that mobile devices can help people develop, sustain and enhance their literacy skills. This is important because literacy opens the door to life-changing opportunities and benefits," said Mark West from UNESCO, author of the report.

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