GraphoGame: Finnish app fighting illiteracy

GraphoGame, a game supporting children in learning and developing their mother tongue, is the first Finnish company to receive the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize this autumn. The literacy software and e-leaning methodology GraphoGame was awarded as a result of decades of research and development.

With 250 million illiterate children in the world and up to 10% of all people having dyslexia,
teachers and schools struggle to provide the 1-on-1 support these children need.
GraphoGame is an evidence-based game that helps children learn to read and spell their first letters, syllables and words, and it is developed in close cooperation with a number of
universities including Stavanger, Marseille and Jyväskylä, aiming to cover every major language.

A portrait of a woman
Graphogame has currently been downloaded over five million times and has hundreds of thousands of monthly active users. Co-founder and CEO Mervi Palander is running the business from Kaarina, Southwestern Finland. Photo: GraphoGame

Mervi Palander, the CEO and founder of GraphoGame, says there is a kind of Robin Hood-way of thinking behind the developing the app, the belief that every child deserves the chance to unlock their potential through literacy.
– We are so far covering both big and small languages, from Icelandic to Afrikaans and
Swahili, Mervi Palander says. One of my big dreams is to find a collaboration with a university to develop the app for the Arabic languages.

 

 

Changes after only two months

GraphoGame teaches letters, syllables and words offline through a phonetic methodology and dynamic level design that adapts to the proficiency of each student. By playing the game, children learn first the basic letters and their sounds. Through a series of levels, they gradually move on to short and increasingly longer words. GraphoLearn dynamically adapts the difficulty level to the child’s unique ability level.
– It is of course individual, but after two months you can already detect changes in both
reading and writing, Mervi Palander says.

 

A child playing a computer game
Guyana’s school children have had access to the Graphogame‭ ‬literacy‭ ‬ ‭ ‬app‭ through‭ ‬ ‭ ‬collaborations‭ ‬ ‭ ‬between‭ GTT‭ ‬ ‭ ‬ ‭ ‬Business‭ ‬ ‭ ‬Solutions‭ ‬ ‭ ‬& STEMGuyana since 2022. Photo: STEMGuyana

Free to use in most cases

Through partnerships with governments and educational institutions, GraphoGame can either be pre-installed in devices such as tablets, which are then distributed to areas with limited access to teachers and educational resources. In most cases, the game is distributed for free (paid by the government or an NGO) through stores so that it is free for families and schools in that country. These strategies aim to democratize access to high-quality literacy education, regardless of geographical barriers.

 

A boy playing a computer game
GraphoGame consists of many levels, one of them is a task in which the child is expected to choose the letter matching the letter sound. Photo: Johanna Leino

Collaboration with universities

Coming from Finland, a country with one of the highest educational systems, GraphoGame’s inspiration stemmed from a deep desire to give every child the essential skill of literacy, guaranteeing equal educational opportunities for everyone. Jesper Ryynänen, is the co-founder along with Palander, and the next step is creating a platform for the other side, for the educational staff, teachers and other professionals, to let them in on the facts behind the challenges on learning the language for a specific child. This is done in close collaboration with universities.

 

Invitation to Korea

Earlier in October this year, the three laureates of UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize from Finland, Pakistan and South Africa were invited by the government of the Republic of Korea to visit Seoul and Sejong City, and take part in the 577th Hangul Day Celebrations, which commemorates the creation of the Korean alphabet by King Sejong in 1446. Jesper Ryynänen, Co-founder of GraphoGame, in Finland, represented GraphoGame.

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