300 schools in Visayas now connected to Text2Teach

More public elementary schools in the Visayas will soon enjoy innovative ways of learning through Text2Teach as the project widens its reach.

Text2Teach is a comprehensive mobile learning package that uses Nokia mobile phones, which can download more than 300 educational video materials on grade 5 and 6 Math, Science, English, and Values Education. It comes with a Globe Telecom BridgeCom prepaid SIM card and a 32-inch LED Toshiba television. It allows teachers even in remote areas to access educational materials to supplement their lessons. To date, the program has reached a total of 736 public schools all over the country.

On August 27 in Silay City, Negros Occidental, a total of 13 local government units (LGUs) signed up for Text2Teach, with 12 LGUs signing a memorandum of agreement with the Text2Teach Alliance and with the heads of LGUs and the Department of Education, and one LGU turning over its counterpart funding to the alliance. These commitments will now allow the Text2Teach Alliance to implement the project in 172 public elementary schools in the Visayas. At present, the program is being implemented in 128 schools. With the recent signing, the total number of Text2Teach schools will reach 300.

LGUs in the Visayas that have signed up for Text2Teach are Silay City, Bacolod City, La Carlota City, Talisay City, and Bago City of Negros Occidental; Bayawan City, Guihulngan City, and Bais City of Negros Oriental; Laua-an, Antique; Naga City and Talisay City of Cebu; and the Province of Siquijor. 

All public elementary schools in Silay City and La Carlota City will now be 100% connected to Text2Teach. 

Mayor John Yap of Malay, Aklan, turned over the town’s counterpart funding to the Text2Teach Alliance. Earlier this month, the municipality signed the memorandum of agreement with the Text2Teach Alliance, supporting to connect eight schools in the town.

At the same time, Text2Teach project partner Toshiba Corporation turned over 300 32-inch LED Toshiba television sets to the Text2Teach Alliance. Toshiba, a key partner for Text2Teach’s fourth phase, is providing 850 32-inch LED television sets. Late last year, a total of 300 television sets were already distributed to various beneficiary schools.

“The heart of this project lies in our partners. It is through communities and stakeholders like you who support innovative education projects and have the passion and drive in providing quality education for our schoolchildren that we can reach our goal and support our public elementary schools,” said Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman and CEO of Ayala Corporation and co-chairman of Ayala Foundation, during his keynote message at the signing.

Text2Teach makes use of a full cellular platform using a 3G-enabled device such as the Nokia mobile phone equipped with an application called Nokia Education Delivery (NED). NED allows teachers to download and choose educational videos on Math, Science, English, and Values Education specifically created for the project, providing a highly effective visual aid for teachers and creating an interactive, student-focused learning environment in the classroom. The new videos produced for the project’s fourth phase were funded by Pearson Foundation.

Students watch the videos using television sets provided Text2Teach. The lesson plans were created to meet local education guidelines and standards, and are fully integrated with the DepEd basic education curriculum. 

The Text2Teach mobile phones are also configured with another Nokia technology called Nokia Data Gathering (NDG). NDG enables Ayala Foundation to design, send, receive, and analyze surveys sent to the mobile phones of Text2Teach-recipient schools. This technology can gather data on the usage and effects of Text2Teach, for monitoring and evaluation purposes. 

Globe Telecom provides free PhP150 monthly load allowance for one year to be used for helpdesk and technical support concerns, and an additional PhP4,500 load to download new videos on Math, Science, English, and Values Education through its network.

Text2Teach is the Philippine name of the global BridgeIT program conceptualized in 2002 by Nokia, Pearson, the United Nations Development Programme, and the International Youth Foundation. It is being implemented locally by an alliance composed of Nokia, Globe Telecom, the Department of Education, Pearson Foundation, and Ayala Foundation. 

“There are today 11 countries all over the world that actually have a Text2Teach program under a mother program called Bridged IT. And the Philippines is considered a model country by UNESCO for being having best practices for the use of mobile technology in education. So if we can mainstream this and make it happen to all of our public elementary school, that would be a dream come true,” said Luli Heras-de Leon, Ayala Foundation president.

Significant steps have been taken toward mainstreaming the program. The Text2Teach Alliance recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the Union of Local Authorities in the Philippines (ULAP), through which Text2Teach gained further support from partner LGUs. To date, the program has reached its target 850 schools for phase 4 of the program one year ahead of schedule. 

Text2Teach not only demonstrates how mobile technology can be used for education, but also how the private and public sectors can work together in bridging the educational and digital divide around the world. And with the private-public partnership strategy employed by the program, Text2Teach is reaching more schools in the country, with a target of 850 new schools by 2014. 

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