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Mobile phone call records may be used to identify illiteracy

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Jerry Miller
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Education has long been lauded as our most powerful weapon in the war on poverty, and literacy is perhaps education s keystone.

But around the world, there are some 750 million individuals who are unable to read and write, and two-thirds of that demographic are women.

Identifying who and where these individuals are is an ongoing challenge, one that has traditionally been addressed by household surveys, but this method is neither efficient nor economical, and organizations have been in search of an alternative.

And now, there just might be a solution — mobile phone call records.

Pål Sundsøy at Telenor Group Research in Fornebu, Norway, believes he s found a way to determine literacy rates using little more than readily available information from a mobile phone company.

As the MIT Technology Review reported, Sundsøy began his research with a standard household survey of 76,000 mobile phone users living in an unidentified developing country in Asia, which was conducted on behalf of a mobile phone operator by a professional agency.

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