MOBILE phones can play a vital role to boost the knowledge of elementary school teachers and students in rural areas of Papua New Guinea.
This was revealed by a report on the innovative mobile phone research project implemented by Voluntary Services Overseas in partnership with the Department of Education under the AusAID economic and public sector programme.
The trial project called SMS Story sent phonics stories and lesson plans to elementary one and two teachers to help them teach.
“The SMS technology, using Frontline SMS over Digicel mobile network, was effective in reaching the teachers in elected remote schools in Madang and Chimbu provinces last year,” the report said.
The text messages contained short stories and lesson plans on pronunciation and teaching new words to students. The report said students, in the selected in the provinces, improved their reading skills compared with students who did not access the SMS Story.
It showed that 80% of the teachers in the schools that received SMS Story had stories for the children everyday while 20% of teachers in schools with no SMS Story had no stories for the students.
“The text messages to teacher improved students’ ability in decoding, fluency, reading familiar high frequency words and reading phonetically correct nonsense words,” the report said.
The report said there was little progression and low reading comprehension skills of the students.
VSO recommended that the SMS Story be scaled up, improve story and lesson plans based on learning from the trial, conduct further research into variations of the methodology and use stories and lesson plans in other reading interventions.
Mobile communication research consultant of economic and public sector programme Dr Amanda Watson said since there was no internet access in rural areas, mobile phones could play a vital role in education of rural people.
“SMS Story support teachers and improve the children’s reading skills,” Watson said.
It supports the teachers in rural and remote schools which do not have the reading books. The National
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