Background

The Yoza Project, originally known as m4Lit (mobile phones for literacy), set out to explore the viability of using mobile phones to support reading and writing by youth in South Africa (SA). If mobile phones proved to be a legitimate alternative and complement to printed literature then their potential for increasing youth literacy practices of reading and writing in SA, and indeed the developing world, would be significant. Most developing countries are book-poor and mobile phone-rich, after all.

In the pilot phase of the project a mobile novel (m-novel) was written and published in September 2009 on a mobisite and on MXit. The story, called Kontax, was published in English and in isiXhosa. Readers were invited to interact with it as it unfolded – teens could discuss the evolving plot, vote in polls, leave comments, and finally submit a written piece as part of a competition for story sequel ideas. In this way the project aimed to contribute to the understanding of youth mobile literacies. A few months later, a second Kontax m-novel was published.

The uptake was tremendous. In just seven months the two stories were read over 34,000 times on mobile phones. To put this in context, a book is considered a best seller in South Africa if 3,000 copies are sold. Over 4,000 entries were received in the writing competitions and over 4,000 comments were left by readers on individual chapters. Many of the readers asked for more stories and indifferent genres.

Current status

Based on the success of the pilot phase, a bigger m-novel offering called Yoza (www.yoza.mobi and on MXit) was launched on 22 August 2010. Yoza is a funky youth-zone with engaging stories that include more Kontax episodes as well as stories from other genres, e.g. soccer, issues and teen romance. Yoza also has a Classics section for public domain content being studied by learners in South Africa, e.g. Romeo and Juliet. All stories from http://www.kontax.mobi have been moved to Yoza.

Yoza is available on MXit in South Africa and Kenya. See the reports page for the latest project statistics and previous reports.

Update 23 September 2016: Yoza has now merged with FunDza.

Pilot phase: Key stakeholders

Project leader:

Steve Vosloo

Researchers:

Dr Ana Deumert, Associate Professor in the Linguistics Section, Department of English, University of Cape Town

Dr Marion Walton, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Film and Media Studies, University of Cape Town

Research co-ordinator and isiXhosa translator:

Nkululeko Mabandla

Mobisite developers:

Fontera

Story authors:

Sam Wilson of Clockwork Zoo

Design:

Clockwork Zoo

Funder:

Shuttleworth Foundation

Credits

Header image:

High schooler with mobile phone by mLearning Africa (License: CC-BY-NC-SA)

22 Responses to “About the project”


  1. 1 Dineo April 28, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    How do I subscribe? Would love to read some of these m-novels…..

  2. 3 Ila January 11, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    This is a wonderful project. How compatible is the site with phones that are not “smartphones”?

  3. 5 Nivethika April 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Good work. We do have such stories forwarded in our country too. But we never thought of a big project like this. Thought proving effort to make the students interested. I’d like to implement it with my students too. I think they will think it as funny, and then let me quote this page and the project as leading examples. Kudos to the brain behind this project.🙂


  1. 1 links for 2009-09-09 « Design in Africa Trackback on September 9, 2009 at 4:07 pm
  2. 2 Qu’importe le support pourvu qu’on parvienne à lire « The Purple Corner Trackback on October 3, 2009 at 10:59 pm
  3. 3 Kontax on the BBC « m4Lit Project Trackback on November 6, 2009 at 9:05 am
  4. 4 2009: A year in review « innovating education Trackback on December 9, 2009 at 10:00 am
  5. 5 Creative Commons Chile » Blog Archive » Fundación Shuttleworth lanza libreria en teléfonos móviles para jóvenes de Sudáfrica Trackback on August 25, 2010 at 3:41 pm
  6. 6 2010 in review « m4Lit Project Trackback on January 3, 2011 at 12:08 pm
  7. 7 The Yoza Project : Cellphones and ‘mlearning’ in South-Africa. :: The Unbound Book Trackback on April 27, 2011 at 3:10 pm
  8. 8 Masters of Media » The Yoza Project : Cellphones and ‘mlearning’ in South-Africa. Trackback on April 28, 2011 at 11:51 pm
  9. 9 Grafix 365 » Learning about mLearning: Thoughts from The International Mobiles for Education Symposium Trackback on August 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm
  10. 10 Learning about mLearning: Thoughts from the International Mobiles for Education Symposium | Ed-Looped! Trackback on August 26, 2011 at 6:05 pm
  11. 11 The Yoza Project « ELTbites Trackback on December 25, 2011 at 6:57 pm
  12. 12 The fun way « phonepower Trackback on March 30, 2012 at 1:49 pm
  13. 13 The Yoza Project « Babble Trackback on April 25, 2012 at 11:00 am
  14. 14 Finding Inspiration in Developing World Mobile Learning Success Stories and Lessons Learned - Center for Educational Improvement Trackback on May 1, 2012 at 6:38 pm
  15. 15 On mobiles for teacher development and edutainment: Interview by Russell Southwood of Balancing Act Africa | Steve Vosloo Trackback on August 6, 2012 at 10:46 am
  16. 16 Mxit: A Growing Technology | Social Code Online Agency Trackback on October 4, 2012 at 10:10 am

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