How literacy educator Rita Rani Sarker transforms lives of adult learners

9 May 2023

"During UNESCO's digital skills training, I learned how to make learning easy and interesting for our students."

- Rita Rani Sarker; Literacy educator at the Kalupara Community Learning Centre in Horidevpur, Rangpur, Bangladesh

A literacy challenge

Bangladesh has a significant literacy challenge, with 25 per cent of adults aged 15 and older unable to read or write.

This lack of basic literacy skills deprives them of access to decent jobs, information essential for everyday life, and the ability to fully participate in society.  

A need for digital skills in literacy teaching

Rita Rani Sarker, along with other adult educators at the Kalupara Community Learning Centre, works diligently to provide basic literacy skills to adults in her community in the North-West of Bangladesh.

However, like many of her peers in other countries, Rita lacked the necessary digital skills to incorporate technology into her teaching, despite the fact that digital skills are crucial for literacy instruction in the twenty-first century.

"The elite in our society already have access to digital learning, but digital education is particularly crucial for underprivileged groups. If we want to provide them with literacy skills and enable lifelong learning, technology must play a role."

- Dr Tuhin Wadud; Department of Bengali at Begum Rokeya University, Rangpur

Promoting quality literacy instruction

To promote quality literacy instruction by enhancing the effective use of technology in teaching and learning, the UNESCO-led Global Education Coalition and UNESCO's Global Alliance for Literacy launched a training programme.

The programme was contextualized to the Bangladeshi context with the assistance of the Comprehensive Initiative for Vulnerability Improvement and Consultancy (CIVIC) Foundation and 30 local stakeholders, and was subsequently rolled out in northwest and southeast Bangladesh. 

Learning new skills

Rita Rani Sarker, along with 65 other literacy educators, participated in this eight day online and in-person training organized by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, the UNESCO Dhaka Office, and Rangpur's Non-Formal Education Resources Team. She learned about the basic concepts of digital literacy instruction and engaged in hands-on activities such as creating WhatsApp groups, sending emails, setting up online meetings, using PowerPoint for literacy teaching, identifying fake websites, and uploading blog posts, among others. 

The newly acquired digital skills quickly transformed Rita's teaching.

"When I use PowerPoint presentations to teach, my students are able to grasp new content much faster. It is also more time-efficient for me. Students can participate in my classes online at their convenience without needing to come in person. And if there are problems in their community, I can easily communicate with them to discuss and provide support. We can resolve issues much more quickly."

- Rita Rani Sarker; Literacy educator at the Kalupara Community Learning Centre in Horidevpur, Rangpur, Bangladesh

Transforming lives

Her newfound digital skills have not only changed Rita's teaching, but they have also transformed lives in her community.

In her classes, Rita supports learners in finding answers to practical life questions, and she has realized that teaching with the support of digital means and visual content is often more effective.

"When expectant mothers come to me with questions about their diet and other issues, they often struggle to remember verbal advice. But when they learn through visual means, they can retain information much better."

- Rita Rani Sarker; Literacy educator at the Kalupara Community Learning Centre in Horidevpur, Rangpur, Bangladesh

Making a positive impact on adult literacy

Despite challenges such as a lack of stable internet connection and of high-quality devices in her community learning centre, Rita remains determined to further transform her teaching through digitalization for the benefit of her learners and her community.

With the support of digital skills, Rita is making a positive impact on adult literacy in her community, empowering learners to improve their lives through education.


The Global Education Coalition / Global Alliance for Literacy project on improving the digital competencies of literacy educators was launched in 2022 in close collaboration with relevant UNESCO field offices and national ministries.

The aim of the project is to enhance literacy educators’ effective use of technologies in literacy instruction and learning through locally contextualized training modules.

Bangladesh, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt and Nigeria piloted the initiative in 2022. More countries and organizations are expected to take part in the project over the coming months.

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