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Finnish literacy game wins renowned UNESCO prize

GraphoGame teaches kids to connect spoken sounds with letters and words.

Facebook / GraphoGame

UNESCO has awarded its prestigious King Sejong Literacy Prize to GraphoGame, a learning game developed in Finland.

The prize-winner uses gamification to teach young children early literacy skills. Currently, the game is available in nine languages and has been downloaded over five million times worldwide.

“We are thrilled to be honoured with the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize,” Mervi Palander, founder and CEO of GraphoGame, said. “This recognition underscores the importance of our work and the significance of devising solutions that include those who might otherwise be left behind in education. We have seen first-hand the profound impact literacy has on people's lives.”

GraphoGame is based on a 2007-published Finnish-language early literacy game, Ekapeli, developed by the University of Jyväskylä and Niilo Mäki Institute. Since then, the game has been adapted to other languages and countries in collaboration with the GraphoGame company, Jyväskylä's global GraphoLearn research initiative and local university partners, such as Yale, the University of Cambridge and the University of Aix-Marseille.

 GraphoGame CEO Mervi Palander told Helsingin Sanomat that 14 new language versions of the game are ready, waiting to be published.


GraphoGame also works with governments and NGOs to enable children to access the game for free. The players learn by connecting spoken sounds with letters and words. The game is available in web and mobile versions and for offline use.

“In the coming years, our objective is to provide early literacy skills for tens of millions of children. The UNESCO award provides us with visibility among governments, NGOs, and companies, accelerating the achievement of our goal,” Palander stated.

The King Sejong Literacy Prize is sponsored by the Korean government and recognises contributions to mother language-based literacy development. This year, it was awarded to three recipients that will each receive 20 000 US dollars (18 700 euros). In addition to GraphoGame, the winners were Pakistan-based The Himalayan Literacy Network and an African e-library project called Snapplify.

By: Eeva Haaramo