Thursday, August 7, 2008

September 30, 2010

From Illiteracy to mCommunity, Jokko Initiative Empowers Women with mLearning

By Wayan Vota (Inveneo, ICT Works, etc.)

Since 1991, Tostan has brought its holistic, 30-month Community Empowerment Program based on human rights to thousands of communities in West Africa. As part of this program, they teach basic literacy and numeracy to community participants, particularly women and girls, but not without problems.

September 13, 2010

C8 L8ter? Using Mobile Phones as Literacy Tools in Niger

I recently received a text message from my friend Karim in Niger, asking “Keski ce passe?” (What’s happening?).  Those of you who know French might notice his text is an abbreviation of the much longer expression for “Qu’est-ce qui se passe”, which is formal and proper but a bit long when you only have 140 characters. 

[Read more]

June 24, 2010

Tostan Talks Jokko at Tech Salon

On June 10th, Gannon Gillespie (Tostan Director of US Operations) represented the Jokko Initiative at The Cloudy SMS4D-2 Technology Salon, focused on cloud-based solutions.  The Technology Salon -  sponsored by the UN Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation -  was started in 2008 by Wayan Vota as a forum where technology and development professionals could share their opinions on emerging trends in ICT and international development in an intimate and informal discussion.  

Gannon shared Tostan's experience with the Jokko Initiative's RapidSMS-based Community Forum, which allows a community member to disseminate information to a virtual network of her peers by sending a single text message to the Tostan server. 

[Read more]

 May 26, 2010
Published (25.05.2010)
Also featured on (26.05.2010)

Tostan and the Jokko Initiative: Mobile Technology Amplifying Social Change

With mobile phone networks rapidly expanding to reach the vast majority of Senegalese citizens, and with mobile phones already commonplace in even the most remote villages, mobile technology quickly appeared to us as to be a promising new pedagogical tool for literacy.

March 25, 2010
Published on (03.2010)

The Jokko Initiative Named "Exemplary" by the Clinton Global Initiative

The Clinton Global Initiative is a non-partisan catalyst for action, bringing together global leaders including heads of state, non-profit organizations, charities, and business leaders to discuss challenges facing the world today and to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.

Commitments to Action are a unique feature of CGI membership and serve to translate practical goals into meaningful and measurable results. Tostan's Commitment to CGI, « Extending a Model for Community Empowerment across Africa », describes the Jokko initiative and has been recognized as "exemplary" under the CGI 2010 Action Area « Enhancing Access to Modern Technology » .

March 18, 2010
Published on (03.2010)

The Jokko Initiative: Building Literacy, Building Leaders

The Jokko Initiative is featured in Women & Mobile: A Global Opportunity, a comprehensive global research report on the gender gap in the mobile phone industry in develop
ing and transition countries produced by the GSMA Development Fund in partnership with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and launched at the Mobile World Congress held last month in Barcelona.

The report highlights the Jokko Initiative's success in reinforcing women's literacy skills and building their confidence as agents of social change.

March 7, 2010
Published on (03.07.2010)

Connected Communities: Mobile Technology and Positive Social Change

The Jokko Initiative is featured in Tom Watson's article, "Technologies that Empower Women."

August 10, 2009
Published on ICTWorks (08.10.2009)

SMS Forum, Creating Mobile Phone Communities with RapidSMS

Everyone knows how SMS works - you can send an email to one other person. And there are SMS aggreators like Frontline SMS that allow you to send text messages to multiple people. But now we have RapidSMS, which promises to take SMS text messaging to a whole new level.

August 6, 2009
Published on by Leigh Jaschke (08.06.09) 

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Guillaume Debar, Project Manager, Tostan International

Tel: (+221) 33.820.55.89

Malick Niang, Project Coordinator, Tostan Senegal

Tel: (+221) 77.648.81.14

About the Jokko Initiative

What Tostan Does

Tostan means "breakthrough" in the West African language of Wolof. Tostan’s mission is to empower African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on respect for human rights. Since 1991, Tostan has brought its holistic, human rights-based, 30-month nonformal education program - the Community Empowerment Program (CEP) - to thousands of communities in ten African countries: Burkina Faso, Djibouti, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Somalia, and Sudan. The goal of the CEP is to provide its participants – approximately 80% of whom are women and girls - with the skills and knowledge to improve their lives in a sustainable way. Developed methodically over the past 20 years through an ongoing process of community consultation and careful revision, the CEP has become one of the most unique and effective community development programs in Africa.

Mobile Phone = Pedagogical Tool + Social Mobilization Catalyzer + Economic Resource

With mobile phone networks rapidly expanding to cover the vast majority of African citizens, and with mobile phones already commonplace in even the most remote villages, mobile technology is a promising platform for more empowering and inclusive systems of communication. The increasing accessibility of mobile technology and the cost-efficiency of SMS texting relative to placing a call present a new motivation for literacy while providing an ideal training tool. Mobile technology also has the potential to increase the scope of community-led events and more efficiently diffuse innovations and collective decisions while amplifying the voice of traditionally marginalized individuals. Furthermore, mobile technology is a powerful economic tool that has a variety of innovative potentialities for income-generating activities in rural communities.

The Jokko Initiative: Empowering the BoP with Mobile Technology

Jokko means “communication” or “dialogue” in Wolof, a national language in Senegal, West Africa.With the launch of the Jokko Initiative, Tostan and UNICEF have formed a partnership that positions them at the forefront of SMS-based innovation and focuses on empowering hundreds of rural African communities to use accessible mobile technology to improve their lives and those of their children. This partnership links UNICEF’s reach, resources and technical expertise with Tostan’s ground-level experience and understanding of local realities. In April 2009, Tostan added a new component to its CEP to teach the practical uses of standard mobile phone functions and SMS texting. The "Mobile Phone for Literacy and Development” (MPLD) module uses mobile phones as (1) pedagogical tools to teach and reinforce literacy, organization and management skills and as (2) social mobilization tools that help to build consensus around local development initiatives by providing a platform for exchanging information, broadcasting ideas and organizing advocacy efforts, while amplifying the voice and influence of women and girls in community decision-making processes. The Center of Evaluation for Global Action at the University of Berkeley conducted an independent evaluation of the pilot phase. Preliminary results on youth participation, social mobilization and literacy has been delivered in September 2010.

Innovative RapidSMS Applications for Community-Led Development

Developed using UNICEF’s RapidSMS platform, the “Community Forum” is a practical, SMS-based application that allows a community member to disseminate information to a virtual network of her peers by sending a single text message to the Tostan server. The Community Forum has been vital in publicizing community activities and events such as vaccination campaigns and literacy group meetings and in spreading news about positive social change. In 2010, Tostan will be launching two new projects using RapidSMS: (1) “Jokkondiral!”, an innovative website that will allow Tostan’s rural participants to communicate via SMS texting with their relatives in the diaspora and (2) a real-time monitoring system that will allow Community Management Committees- community-based organizations that are trained by Tostan during the CEP to lead local development initiatives- to report on their activities.

Community Telecenters for Income-Generating and Social Mobilization Activities

Tostan is currently piloting community telecenters in rural, off-grid communities that will provide much-needed mobile technology services, including the sale of credit, calling, and phone charging through the use of solar energy. The income generated from these activities will, in turn, provide funds for community social mobilization activities, including the provision of free SMS texting for women and girls in order to increase their access to mobile technology, amplify their voices, and allow them to practice their literacy skills.
Blog adapted by Salim Drame