A MAJOR challenge for kindergarten teachers is how to get their young students excited about school. But for the past months, teachers of Sapian Elementary School and Dao Elementary School in Capiz had been dealing with the opposite “problem” -- their preschoolers, even the latter’s parents, were far too excited.
That’s because they knew that their schools would each receive a TechnoCart from PLDT mobile subsidiary Smart Communications.
The Smart TechnoCart is a mobile laboratory that contains 20 tablets, a projector, a laptop-tablet, and a pocket Wi-Fi with starter load. The tablets and laptops are preloaded with fun educational content, including K-12 and disaster preparedness materials.
“The kids are so excited to use the devices because only a few of them can afford to buy their own. They kept asking me, ‘Ma’am, kailan po ba darating? (When would it arrive?),’” said Sapian ES principal Evelyn Panuncio.
“I told the parents in our community about the TechnoCart; because of this, our enrolment increased,” she added.
The TechnoCart, which can be wheeled from one room to the next, can serve up to 10 kindergarten classes.
Preschool teacher Myra Balbasor of Dao ES said, “The kids are very eager to learn, and to see and touch the tablets. Before, we teachers would just write on the blackboard or on Manila paper. Now the lessons will be more interactive and fun.”
John Christian Batiles, a student at Sapian ES, said, “The TechnoCart will help us learn our lessons and enhance our competence in technology. We will take care of it so we could pass it on to future students.”
Smart developed the TechnoCart after a study it had commissioned showed that the managed use of tablets in the kindergarten classroom -- only 30 minutes per session, three times a week -- boosted literacy. Students who used tablets to learn the alphabet, numbers, shapes, and colors showed higher improvement in cognitive (88 percent difference in test scores) and psychomotor learning domains versus students who did not have access to tablets. They also had greater interest in lessons.
The experience of earlier recipients of the Smart TechnoCart supported these findings. Smart public affairs senior manager Stephanie Orlino said, “Teachers have reported a decline in absenteeism among students. One teacher in Albay shared that even after classes were suspended because of heavy rains, some of her pupils still went to school because it was ‘tablet day.’ Our focus here is really not just to provide technology, but to make learning enjoyable for kids.”
Since the program’s launch in 2015, Smart and partner sponsors -- individuals and organizations -- have donated TechnoCarts to 52 schools in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Sapian and Dao ES were recommended as recipients by Synergeia Foundation, a coalition of individuals and organizations working with local government units to improve the delivery of basic education to children.
“Dao was the first to launch education reform in Capiz, while the mayor of Sapian is very active and supportive of the education reform program. You can see how eager the whole community and schools are in welcoming this kind of technology,” said Synergeia chief executive officer Milwida Guevara.
Guevara expressed optimism that the TechnoCart would help address the problem of struggling readers.
“We are concerned with the status of reading comprehension among Filipino students. Four to six out of 10 have difficulty reading. Up to grade six, we still have struggling readers. It is important to start with the preschoolers. And everything redounds to the ability of teachers to make students enjoy education,” she said.
Individuals and organizations that are interested in making learning more fun for preschoolers may send an email to TechnoCart@smart.com.ph for more information. (PR)