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Tawi-Tawi preschoolers level up learning the digital way

[15 August 2016] Two kindergarten teachers from Tawi-Tawi wheel the Smart TechnoCart every day from the main school building to their classrooms, across broken concrete paths and mud. Both of them say their pupils' enthusiasm is worth the effort.

BONGGAO, Tawi-tawi – Nurhada Rasi had never seen her son Almikhar so excited. The five-year-old boy could hardly wait to tell his mother what he learned in class that day.

"Ma, I know how to use a tablet! We now use to learn our lessons," the boy said, as he rushed out of the classroom and into his mother's arms.

Almikhar is a pupil at the Datu Halun Laboratory Pre-school in Bonggao, Tawi-tawi, which has received two units of Smart TechnoCart, a mobile learning laboratory equipped with 20 tablets, a laptop, projector and mobile WiFi.

The carts were donated by mobile leader Smart Communications, Inc. to help upgrade teaching in far-flung areas through technological tools.

“Almikhar never tires telling me how much easier and fun learning is with the use of a tablet," Nurhada said.

Each tablet is preloaded with Batibot, the first learning app in Filipino that is aligned with the kindergarten curriculum of the Department of Education. The app can be downloaded for free on Android devices.

Kindergarten teachers Marilou Abdurahman and Rosalyn Sansawi wheel the two carts every day from the main school building to their classrooms, across broken concrete paths and mud. 

Both teachers say their pupils' enthusiasm is worth the effort.

Sansawi observed that with the use of tablets, the children showed improved comprehension.

“They become so engrossed in their lessons that they sometimes forget it’s recess time! They just go on tinkering with the tablets,” she said.

Stephanie Orlino of Smart Public Affairs said a study conducted by a development management expert revealed that children, especially in their formative years, could develop essential thinking skills through fun games on the app.

“According to the teachers, the children have become more focused and much quieter," she said. They now also interact in class, asking one another about apps and collaborating on tasks. 

Jerry Jimenez, DepEd Education Program supervisor, said that through the Smart TechnoCart, pupils of Datu Halun Laboratory Pre-school are now at par with students from major urban centers. They are now learning the same subjects being taught students in Manila, Cebu, and Davao cities. 

“Our students now have a chance to compete with those from bigger schools,” Jimenez said. “A little bit of technology can definitely help bridge the gap.”

A year since the program launch, Smart has distributed TechnoCarts to 29 public schools from as far as Pangasinan in the North and Tawi-Tawi in the South.

Fifteen of these units were donated by Smart, while the rest were sponsored by individuals and organizations wanting to help spread the benefits of digital learning to more public schools.

To get more Smart TechnoCarts rolling, prospective sponsors may visit www.smart.com.ph/learnsmart.