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Learning barriers take many forms. They can be cost prohibitive, distance and access to transport may present problems, learners can lack confidence with tech or the process, and limited literacy can all threaten to shut them out of education altogether. Competing responsibilities and lack of reliable access to power can also impede learning. 

Viamo’s Digital Training service not only overcomes these barriers but is preferred by most learners, research shows. 

In 2021, nearly 300,000 people across 27 countries received Viamo’s Digital Training. 

Included in this tally, more than 80 percent of 5,000 Ugandan farmers who participated in Digital Training said they viewed the voice-based service as “relevant” and “useful,” according to follow-up surveys. They expressed interest in further training.

When Uganda’s Agribusiness Development Center (ADC) wanted to provide a course on financial literacy to thousands of farmers, they discovered that they were unable to offer in-person training to such a widely spread audience. Instead, audio lessons were sent directly to farmers’ mobile phones through a call. 

This made it possible for ADC to deliver interactive lessons on savings, investments, loans and budgeting at a fraction of the cost of in-person training.

“Using my phone to receive financial training was very exciting. This provoked me to start saving.”

Josephine NabowaFarmer

Meeting learners where they are, with the tech they have

A number of factors influence the way people learn, including how lessons are delivered. In Uganda, Save the Children teamed up with Viamo after they discovered that many teachers were struggling to buy mobile data to access online training. 

But they could still receive calls and texts. 

The partnership launched a Digital Training for 500 teachers covering lessons on child protection and how to include children with disabilities.

More than 90 percent of the teachers said they chose to take the training as an opportunity to gain more knowledge and improve their skills. 

The need was there, and Digital Training provided the means, while accounting for cultural sensitivities.  

Some teachers reported that they were initially intimidated by being unable to comprehend English-language training. They expected a fast-talking, native English speaker. But Viamo’s Digital Training is locally tailored to meet the needs of each individual – either through native language speakers or local voice actors.

After completing the first lesson, most of the participants reported that the training piqued their curiosity and increased their desire to continue answering the training calls.

“The sessions were interesting. But what was exciting the most was the voice. The voice was friendly …Very soft and convincing. The voice talked about methods of teaching and problem solving, so I was interested as a leader to solve challenges at school,”  said Wahimba, a headteacher in Kasese.

Digital… without the internet

With four billion people globally disconnected from the internet, solutions that work on any mobile phone are key to ensure no one is left behind. In addition to working flawlessly with all basic mobile phones, Viamo’s Digital Training service does not require an internet connection. 

This year, Mitsui and Co. teamed up with Viamo to deliver training to more than 1,000 cotton farmers in Zambia. The lessons were translated into the local languages of Tonga and Nyanja. 

Our research showed that this localized approach can prevent intimidation and exclusion for new or inexperienced learners. 

Final results showed high knowledge retention, with 81 percent of farmers responding correctly to the last exam.

Farmers, teachers, healthcare workers, refugees and business owners are just a few examples of audiences that have benefited from Digital Training worldwide. For all these communities, timing and privacy can also be an issue when receiving training over the phone. 

Viamo’s Digital Training service fits into learners’ busy schedules. They can call back at no cost, they can listen to lessons they may have missed, or review lessons that were more complex.

By using basic mobile phones, millions of people around the world can take advantage of the opportunities presented by digital transformation, even in disconnected communities.