Positive Pick-Me-Ups: Bringing Maths and Literacy To One Billion Children
Large class sizes aren’t anything new for most educators in the world, but in some schools this is a much bigger issue than in others – quite literally. In Malawi, class sizes can reach up to two hundred and fifty pupils! This makes a personalized learning environment – something of an ideal in education – completely unattainable, let alone having enough time to monitor an individual child’s progress to make sure no one is falling behind.
Enter Onebillion, a London-based non-profit who’ve developed extremely simple apps in order for children to be able to teach themselves basic concepts in maths and literacy without the need for adult support. Onebillion’s mission is to bring quality education to one billion children in need worldwide – and they’re well on their way!
As featured in the BBC feature (below), the tablets and apps Onebillion has provided for schools in Malawi have made it possible for a teacher to monitor how every child is progressing as each child’s results can be seen instantaneously in the app. Everyone in the class can see when someone is doing well, keeping a sense of community amongst the pupils even though they are working independently.
The apps developed by Onebillion are called Onecourse. These apps teach elementary aged children maths and literacy in their own local language, as well as teaching them the English language too. In Malawi, the Onecourse apps are currently reaching twenty thousand children with the hope to have every one of these children able to read a full length book by themselves by the time they have to leave education.
Onecourse’s maths materials are currently available in over fifty languages, and use fun, practical and colourful activities to get the kids engaged and learning independently. The apps provide instant feedback so they can see where they’ve gone wrong or can improve and can revise difficult parts straight away.
The literacy materials are built in a way to instill a love of reading from the beginning, to stop literacy seeming a difficult topic but something genuinely to be enjoyed. The apps contain a library of materials, suitable for different ages and abilities, created by Onebillion’s own author who has lived and taught in Ghana herself. Local authors’ stories are also incorporated in order to provide an array of culturally relevant and diverse stories.
The apps also include digital ‘teachers’ and characters whose appearances change depending on the country the apps are being used in, in order to reflect the culture and ethnicities of the children using the apps. The digital teacher – ‘Anna’ – helps children through the structured part of the apps, where she guides them through the concepts and exercises, repeating instructions and giving children instant feedback in their own language. The apps also contain a ‘play’ area where children learn and discover for themselves, and where they can practice their skills and engage in creative play.