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Literacy and education in relation with agribusiness.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 2019 estimates that women represent two-thirds of the global non literate population. Within countries, there are often enormous urban-rural divides, with most illiterate people living in rural areas. In sub-Saharan Africa, half of all women are illiterate.

The strongest correlation in literacy statistics is between household poverty and illiteracy. Introducing ICTs is not always simple for people who are illiterate. Aside from illiteracy, other barriers include technical illiteracy; women’s lower education levels can exacerbate illiteracy and technical illiteracy challenges.

Sending an SMS can be difficult for people who are illiterate, or have only basic literacy. It is not easy to type a message on a small phone, especially if the same key needs to be pressed several times in order to obtain a specific letter. Using a computer and browsing the Internet can be an even more daunting prospect.

Subscribing and unsubscribing to mobile phone services is often challenging, even for literate people, as the instructions are often in English, or the process requires different subsequent actions. When targeting rural women, many programmes or initiatives will choose to use radio, a medium that is accessible to all, whether they are literate or illiterate. Audio programmes, video or images can offer alternatives to written information, and can help to overcome the barriers of literacy.

ICTs can be an incentive to improve literacy. People can be motivated to learn how to read and write when they own a mobile phone, and are anxious to read SMS messages or send messages themselves.

According to UNESCO, ICTs can serve as tools for acquiring literacy skills. Radio or video, used in combination with printed materials, can make literacy classes more appealing. The combination of audio and visual stimuli will be more effective than visual stimuli alone, and can aid information processing and memory. Various software programmes have been designed to support reading lessons and enhance learning

Access to literacy education may be limited, or denied, due to social, cultural and geographical factors, or as a result of lack of time to attend classes. ICTs, such as radio, television or the Internet can help to overcome these and other constraints, such as geographical barriers, by facilitating distance learning, bringing the courses to people in remote areas.

Digital literacy should be part of school curricula for both primary and secondary education, as well as for professional education related to agriculture. In 2017, ITU reported that youth are at the forefront of Internet adoption. The young generation should be given preparation, so that they are able to use the new technologies to the best effect.