KARACHI: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has closed its project aimed at educating women in several districts of Sindh through cell phones, Daily Times has learnt. Initially, the six-month project was launched last year that was aimed at imparting education to girls and women of ages 15 to 25 in rural areas. However, with the low result and administrative mismanagement, the UNESCO closed the project and refused to provide funds for next phase, sources told Daily Times. Under the said project, a female coordinator used to visit selected candidates’ homes to give weekly classes and regular lessons to them via cell phones. The programme focused sending text messages to the female students and then regular classroom teaching depending upon the consent of the student and her family, sources added. The classroom phase involved three hours of work a day, six days a week for two months. In the third month, students received cell phones and became able to send and receive Sindhi-language text messages, using software developed by the UNESCO and a local telecommunications company. “Around 750 cell phones were provided to learners, 30 for teachers, 10 for coordinators and 10 for monitoring purposes,” sources explained. According to sources, Pakistan has a national literacy rate of 70 percent for males and 47 percent for females and in Sindh’s urban areas, the male literacy rate is 85 percent and female literacy rate is 70 percent, but in rural Sindh the figures are 58 percent for males and 23 percent for females, whose opportunity to pursue an education is often “hindered by the religious and cultural traditions”, which hampers their ability to move outside their homes unless accompanied by a male relative. Sindh has 47,557 schools, of which 42,328 are functional and 5,229 are closed, including 3,995 temporarily closed and 1,234 permanently closed, sources went on to say. Nearly 20,000 schools have one teacher only, resulting in schools having to teach multiple grades together, while 9,103 schools have two teachers.