mTaleem SMS Based Literacy Program
Mobilink’s ‘SMS Based Literacy’ program works in collaboration with UNESCO to educate rural women via mobile phones. The project is the first and the only Value Added Service in Pakistan that employs a hybrid of m-learning & class room environment, and serves rural women, a group almost entirely excluded from the conventional educational system in Pakistan. A mLiteracy platform specially developed by Mobilink for the project helps teachers to disseminate basic literacy curriculum via SMS. Designated project facilitators organize classes in learners’ respective villages, and access the platform via GPRS to update the syllabus. Learners respond to MCQs sent by SMS; the results of which are logged by the platform to monitor learners’ progress in learning and usage behavior.
As the technical facilitator, Mobilink also provided free uninterrupted cellular connectivity needed to enable teachers and learners to sustain the flow of educational material. UNESCO provided the curriculum suited to the regional socio-cultural sensitivities. It has also engaged and managed local support partners tasked to organize village learning sessions.
The project was piloted in 2009 when it enrolled a total of 250 female learners of rural Punjab. At the end of its 3rd Phase, the project had been able to reach out to 4000 learners who were provided basic literacy skills by means of interactive lessons via SMS. In its 4th Phase, in addition to the 2000 new enrolments, the project is also being used for capacity building of school teachers. The project’s geographical outreach has been expanded to Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa (KPK), Sindh, Islamabad Capital Territory and Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA).
Mobilink’s SMS based literacy program has enabled rural women to better manage domestic finances in the absence of their male guardians. Basic education has also incited interest in vocational trainings amongst rural women, some of whom have convinced their husbands to have them enrolled at local training and vocational centres. Moreover the program has noticeably reduced gender bias to mobile set ownership and the participants have reported a heightened sense of security as a result of having an access to means of communication.
Teach to Transform (T2T) – A Nationwide Initiative
Teach to Transform, Mobilink’s student mentorship program that assigns volunteers to various schools across the country is yet another innovative intervention by the Foundation. The program is designed with the aim to improve the quality of teaching and curriculum at under-resourced educational institutions.
As a pilot, Mobilink Foundation formed an association with Defense Society Residents Association (DSRA), Karachi, where the Mobilink Torchbearers dedicated two hours each, every week to assist students with classroom tuitions. The project, over 8 weeks, included interactive mentorship sessions designed to help students perform better in annual examination. The initiative also emphasized on the importance of extra-curricular activities as these are known to help with personality and character building. Since its inception, the project has also been commissioned in North region at Master Ayub’s Park School and various campuses of Jahangir Akhtar Qureshi (JAQ) Trust Schools.
Mobilink Foundation has also donated teaching aids to its partner schools including note and syllabus prescribed text books, white boards, stationary, school bags and seating.
Enabling underprivileged school children of Islamabad to read and to have access to books, Mobilink took a progressive initiative by handing over a Mobile Library (a Suzuki Bolan van modified to carry books) to the students of Pehli Kiran School System (PKSS). The Pehli Kiran School System, operating under the Jamshed Akhtar Qureshi Trust, is a unique network of schools, catering children from transient communities living on the fringes of our cities. This facility of the Mobile Library caters the needs of the students, mostly resident of squatter communities in and around Islamabad.
Earlier, the JAQ Trust students did not have access to a library and the absence of a proper storage place, the static nature of a typical library and the cost associated with developing one for each campus were the main factors that kept the children from frequent access to books. The Mobile Library filled the gap by providing a designated vehicle to carry books and an unmatched way of taking education to students of JAQ Trust in the form of a library.
The Mobile Library serves more than 1400 students, traveling between the 8 PKSS schools during their ‘reading periods’ each week, in Islamabad and adjourning areas campuses. Students can chose and learn from a vast collection of books including story books, activity books, fairy tales and general knowledge.
Leading by example, Mobilink’s mobile library is a first of its kind educational initiative in the country that is aimed at making a difference in the way children learn every day.
Mobilink Foundation ICT Labs
Mobilink Foundation continues to work with various educational institutions across the country to improve the curriculum quality and its delivery. Along with providing conventional education, Mobilink Foundation aims at imparting the 21st century education which is based on technology. The Foundation setup two computer lab facilities in 2013, with the aim to make basic education and ICT facilities available across Pakistan.
In June 2013, Mobilink Foundation partnered with Kashmir Orphan Relief Trust (KORT) home to more than 200 children who lost their families as result of the 2005 devastating earthquake, occurred in the northern areas of Pakistan. The established computer lab facility comprised a total of ten computer systems serving the resident students.
In September 2013, the Foundation partnered with the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) to set up its second computer lab facility for the year at a local secondary school in District Chakwal. The partnership resulted in the school being able to provide computer based education to students as well as training its teachers in line with the latest technology curriculum. The Lab facility included provision of five latest computer systems, as well as an integrated communications facility to enable online lessons within the lab.
Children Painting Competition
To encourage safety on roads, Mobilink Foundation partnered with the Islamabad Traffic Police to organize the annual painting competition for school children. The competition arranged in February 2013, invited more than 1200 school children (aged 7 – 14) providing them an opportunity to use their creativity and imagination to paint and sketch their understanding of road safety and hazard perception on the road. The students were also provided orientation from traffic education experts on the safety of your family and that of others on the road. The event with an overall attendance of over 1,500 individuals was one of the most successful CR activities of 2013 and resulted in notable Shared Value. Mobilink Foundation-ITP Painting competition received impressive media coverage.