A series of apps which help teach Malawian school children maths, English and the local language Chichewa has been rolled out to 68 schools in the country. The UK’s Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) charity has joined with the schools and the non-profit One billion organisation to teach four and five year olds.
Education in Malawi’s schools is often basic – classes of 80 or 90 pupils are normal and teachers can struggle to monitor whether pupils are keeping up. The apps allow teachers to monitor every pupil’s progress, allowing them to modify lessons and improve results.
While enrollment in the first few years of school is high, UNICEF estimates that only 26% of boys and 16% of girls complete primary school. In secondary school, just 15% of boys and 7% of girls will complete all four years.
onebillion develops apps to help educate children, starting with maths. The first two apps in the ongoing maths series,Maths, age 3-5 and Maths, age 4-6, are in over 50 languages, and bought by parents and teachers all over the world.
The carefully structured maths apps are packed with colourful and engaging activities. Designed to teach and give practice in core maths concepts, for the early years of school. Localised into indigenous languages, the maths apps are already a hit with children and parents in Malawi.
Dr Nicola Pitchford from the University of Nottingham, UK, conducted a randomised control trial to assess the improvements in children’s maths ability after using onebillion apps for 30 minutes per day for 8 weeks in their oneclass. The evaluation took place at Biwi school in Lilongwe, Malawi, with 400 children from Standard 1, 2, 3 and 4 classes. A ‘red’ group used the onebillion ‘Masamu’ maths apps on tablet devices for the duration of the study, whilst a ‘blue’ group used non-educational tablet apps and a ‘pink’ control group continued with normal pedagogical practice.
The study showed that children who used the onebillion apps made significantly greater gains in performance compared to the control (normal practice) group in both mathematical concepts and curriculum knowledge.
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