From 2012-2016, World Education, Inc. implemented the USAID|Aprender a Ler (Learn to Read) program in the northern provinces of Nampula and Zambézia in Mozambique. With the goal of improving early grade reading outcomes for students in grades 1-3, WEI used technology via radios and smartphones as a critical companion to training, coaching, and overall school-community support for reading. Several of these approaches are outlined below:
- Mobile Data Collection – Staff members from local education institutes (district officials, teacher trainers, etc.) were trained on the use of the smartphones in data collections. Using the Magpi app (data collection platform), digital forms were installed on each phone and staff members were able to monitor teacher in-service sessions and conduct Rapid School Assessments. The data collected through the forms were sent to a web-based server to be downloaded, analyzed, and presented to aid decision-making.
- Radio Programs – Solar-powered radios pre-loaded with content were used to help teachers with both local language and Portuguese read-aloud books. The radios were also used in reading clubs outside of the classrooms to practice reading. Additionally, local radio stations broadcast programs to inform the parents and community about reading and their roles and responsibilities to assure their children would attend school and practice reading at home.
- Audiovisual Support – Smartphones were preloaded with visual and audio tools to help teach the phonics-based approach of the program. An android application was developed that showed letter cards while playing the correct sound of the letter shown. Aside from the phonics app, the phones also included modelling videos where teachers demonstrate the use of classroom resources and how to conduct decoding activities.
- SMS Messaging – SMS messaging was used to inform stakeholders about trainings and to invite them to participate. This included reminders to teachers, school directors, and even local ministry officials. On top of invitations for training and presentations, the SMSs also included motivational messages in which specific schools and clusters were complimented on their positive results from an assessment or educational tips on the use of the classroom resources. The use of SMS proved to be a simple and effective way of sharing information and additional instruction when needed.