Increasingly popular South African Mobile Social Network MXit have attracted various media attention over the past years, but recently Shuttleworth Foundation’s m4Lit project commissioned a teen m-novel (novel written to be read on mobile phones), entitled Kontax that could possibly change the literacy landscape for many youth who do not have access to literacy resources in their communities. This m-Novel was made available via the mobile internet as well as the MXit platform and the adoption of Kontax attracted approximately 28,000 users (aged under 18) via MXit. Steve Vosloo champion of this initiative shared on many occasions how he believe taking literacy to the youth using tools they have access to and use frequently (mobile phones) could start impacting their literacy.
According to a study by Marion Walton on behalf of the Shuttleworth Foundation “The m4Lit research project investigated how South African teens responded to Kontax, and how compatible the m-novel was with teens? existing mobile literacy practices. The m4lLit research project focused on exploring an apparent paradox of literacy in South Africa. In most of the country?s under-performing schools, a majority of teens are left behind academically, many experience difficulties with literacy instruction and most have limited access to books and computers. Yet, as a result of South Africa?s mobile phone „revolution? and a thriving mobile youth culture, outside school teens increasingly enjoy frequent rich interactions with the written word and with digital technologies in their peer networks. The m4Lit project asked whether South African teens? enthusiasm about text on phones and their widespread access to mobile Internet could be used in a literacy development project which attempted to bridge the gap between in-school and out-of- school literacies, via leisure reading and writing of fiction.”. The full study can be downloaded here.
This is a very significant stride towards addressing literacy issues in South Africa and in many other developing communities.