Project LAB: tackling illiteracy and other global issues at Royal Institution of Science

June 2017

1 in 5 adults in the United Kingdom are illiterate with 738 million globally. This is hard to digest in the 21st Century and seems more relevant in Victorian society, not the digital age.  In terms of cost to the world it is $1.19 trillion.  The unreasonable group have a selection of entrepreneurs who are making a real difference to society by supported projects in places such as the United States, United Kingdom, India and Asia.

The key thing about this day is the goal to eliminate illiteracy by 2030.  This is such important and refreshing thinking in addressing this aim and actually stating enough is enough and what we can all do to meet this target.

Jeff Hoffman, [1] was inspiring in his keynote address passionately advocating to our group that ‘there is no they – there’s us. It is us that will solve the problems. Don’t wait for the change’.

For DCNs and other museums work on inclusive practice to promote diversity, this is an empowering statement to advocate our own resources for positive change.  Almost all the projects had digital inclusion and collaboration with people at the forefront to develop solutions which have high social and economic impact.

Sophia Grinvalds Co-Founder and Co-Director of Afripads showed how one in ten girls skipped school because of lack of sanitary products.  Afripads are now a global supplier in washable sanitary ware for women in Uganda, Kenya and Malawi.  It has created positive impact for over 1.4 million women and created employment for 150 Ugandans.

ThinkCERCA enables critical thinking through web-based literacy platforms by building up analytical tools.

Ubongo project is a multi-platform for fun and engaging learning for remote communities in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.  The multi-platform is radio, TV and mobile technology teaching mathematics, reading and science.  It was good to see Nisha Ligon speak about the project who has worked for online projects for the BBC, Science Museum and the Guardian.

Guru-G is an app based teaching tool for teachers to support a positive learning experience which has reached out to over 500 schools and used by 5,000 teachers for 120,000 students.  The app can be used with or without the internet and provides the opportunity for mentoring teachers with lesson plans based on different curriculum needs and techniques.

Livox was developed by Carlos Pereira and his wife to support their young daughter with cerebral palsy.  It is an app to support learning in reading, writing and communication with a smart virtual keyboard and reduces risk of social isolation for disabled people.

There were many projects associated with the project and unfortunately unable to list all of them here.  But more details relating to the project are here: http://projectliteracylab.com/

One of the key messages from the whole event was how the jigsaw pieces are there in respect to technology but getting the right people leading and collaboration to identify an active positive solution does not need high finance.  The second key was taking it forward and making it happen.

But, what for museums? Interestingly Project Lab says ‘illiteracy’ should be put where it belongs – in a museum.  Museums can do so much to trial solutions by entrepreneurs for positive social change. Should illiteracy belong in a museum which traditional techniques involve high literacy?  The world is changing and we can be part of the next chapter of positive change.

Becki Morris, Disability Co-operative Network

[1] Jeff was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award and inducted into the Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame by the CEO Council and recently the Champion of Entrepreneurship Award from JP Morgan, Chase, Citibank and Rising Tide Capital.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply