Paiwastoon Networking Services, an Afghan IT company, launched a new literacy program this week that enables women to use mobile phones to learn reading and writing. The program is currently in its pilot phase, but the education ministry has intentions of spreading it nationwide.
The phone is called Ustad Mobile (Mobile Teacher) and uses mobile apps to provide courses in math and both of Afghanistan's national languages, Dari and Pashtu. With financial aid from the US, the software was developed in an effort to address one of the world's lowest literacy rates. According to UN figures, Afghan women are literate at rates of only 12.5 percent, whereas Afghan men's literacy rates are 39.3 percent.
The goal is that this program will help women who were unable to attend school because of the Taliban rules that barred their access to an education. According to the program director, Allah Baz Jam, "Our focus and target is mostly on uneducated women". Furthermore, there are plans to distribute the software via CDs and DVDs as well. Additional lessons will also be available on the Afghanistan Ministry of Education website. Mike Dawson, CEO of Paiwastoon, told AFP "We can make the job of the teachers easier by using the video and the audio [on the phones] and the questions and exercises. Cellphones are cheaper than any computer and people are familiar with it. And also, the maintenance is much easier. . . People don't realise [sic] how powerful these phones are, they work like computers."
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/29/2014 North Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Restrictions - The North Dakota Supreme Court yesterday upheld a set of misguided restrictions on medication abortion, allowing what is effectively a ban on early, non-surgical abortions in the state to go into effect immediately.
The decision overturned a lower court order finding the law, known as HB 1297, unconstitutional and permanently blocking its enforcement. . . .