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Smart keeps local language and culture alive through mother-tongue based apps

by Smart Communications | Dec 10, 2018
As part of its advocacy of harnessing technology for education, PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications (Smart) officially launched today its pool of mobile applications that promote literacy in the mother tongue.
Smart keeps local language and culture alive through mother-tongue based apps

Dubbed as Digital Education For All: No Learner Left Behind, the event showcased five literacy apps developed by Smart in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd), local stakeholders, colleges and universities. These are the Bahay Kubo Tagalog app, Kaalam Cebuano app, Taallam and Tahderiyyah Arabic apps, and Matigsalug app for the Matigsalug tribe of Davao and Bukidnon.

“Smart believes mobile technology is uniquely positioned to help facilitate learning opportunities, which is why we have tailored initiatives to help address the needs of our partner learning communities,” said Ramon R. Isberto, PLDT-Smart Public Affairs Group Head.

Alphabet and number games, folk stories

The Kaalam (Cebuano term for ‘knowledge’) app features folklore stories such as Ang Diwata sa Konta and Ang Kwentas ni Ingkco Candido that were all retold by residents of Argao town in Cebu province. The application was developed in partnership with DepEd Cebu City and Cebu Province, local government of Argao, Cebu Technological University – Argao Campus, and University of Cebu-Banilad.

The Ta’allam (Arabic term for ‘to learn’) was developed specifically for Filipino Muslims by content and multimedia partners such as DepEd General Santos and Sarangani, local government unit of Sarangani, Mercy Foundation, Young Moro Professionals, and ACLC College Gensan. Aside from reading and counting exercises, the app features Islamic prayers such as Dua, Surah, Salah, Wudhu.

The first literacy app for the Bangsamoro children, the Tahderiyyah (Arabic term for ‘Kindergarten’) app focuses more on stories with Islamic values and expressions on top of Arabic alphabet and number games. Its developing team consists of reps from the Bangsamoro Development Agency, FEU Institute of Technology, and Teach Peace Build Peace Movement.

Smart keeps local language and culture alive through mother-tongue based apps

Inspired by the iconic house that has become a symbol of Filipino culture and tradition, the Bahay Kubo interactive mobile application teaches Tagalog alphabet and numbers and will soon feature fun games and stories. The product is a collective effort between Smart and Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Council, an attached agency of the Department of Education.

Representing indigenous peoples

The lack of localized educational materials is more evident in indigenous peoples (IP) communities, where available learning materials are not contextualized. This is the reason why Smart developed Matigsalug, the first tribal app of its kind that showcases songs, dances, and chants from the Matigsalug tribe of Davao and Bukidnon.

With the app, users can learn how to properly pronounce Matigsalug letters and numbers and write them through app-tracing games. It was created in partnership with Matigsalug tribe of Sitio Contract, Datu Salumay, Marilog District in Davao, Pamulaan Center of IP Education, ACLC College Davao and Gensan, and Skeptron Business Solutions.

Aside from these five, Smart intends to launch more literacy apps in 2019. Among those in the pipeline include Sanut Ilokano for Ilokano-speaking regions, Gnare Blaan and Tagakaulo for children of Sarangani, and the Singsing Kapampangan app.

Smart keeps local language and culture alive through mother-tongue based apps

Digital portable classrooms

The targeted primary beneficiaries of the literacy apps are students, teachers, and parents of learning communities under Smart’s School-in-a-Bag, a portable digital classroom designed to facilitate learning in basic education. The applications are delivered through the said digital portable classrooms that contain a teacher's laptop, student tablets, a projector, DVD player, and pocket Wifi.

The devices are preloaded with educational content, while schools with no sufficient electricity also receive solar panels. School-in-a-Bag beneficiaries also receive Dynamic Learning Program modules, teacher training courses, and regular monitoring and evaluation from Smart.

No learner left behind

“Our mission is to develop mother tongue based apps as interactive tools that can help support learning strategies, as well as help preserve and promote local culture and heritage for the present and future generation,” Isberto explained.

Smart emphasized how strong partnerships with community stakeholders are essential in developing Learn Smart programs. “From partnerships with government and non-government offices, local government units, companies, academe, advocacy groups, and media, we all need to work together to help build a nation where no learner is left behind,” said Darwin F. Flores, Smart Community Partnerships Head.

The mother tongue based apps are available for download on Google Pay. Interested parties who wish to learn more about Smart’s educational programs can visit the Smart Communities Facebook page or email learnsmart@smart.com.ph.


  • Tahderiyyah
  • education
  • LearnSmart
  • school-in-a-bag
  • apps
  • literacy apps
  • learning apps
  • bahay kubo
  • matigsalug
  • taallam
  • Kaalam

For media inquiries, contact:

Public Affairs Group, Smart Communications, Inc.
8F Smart Tower 6799 Ayala Avenue, Makati City, Philippines