Tablet-based learning taking shape in Malawi
By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi
Tablet-based learning has started taking shape in Malawi with the launch of Tablet-Based Learning project by a United Kingdom based educational software publisher EuroTalk.
The project currently being piloted in some schools in the country is a culmination of partnership between the governments of Scotland and Malawi.
Government of Malawi through the ministry of education, science and technology launched the scheme in 2010 piloting the use of tablet technology in 30 schools with the EuroTalk app ‘Masamu’ (a local word for mathematics) which is intended to teach basic numeracy.
EuroTalk said in a statement that one of the leading Universities in the UK, The University of Nottingham will be evaluating the project next month in order to establish if children using EuroTalk’s ‘Masamu’ maths application learn faster than their classmates.
The statement which says the study will take place at Biwi Primary School, Lilongwe, which was selected for the project by the ministry of education, also says up to 300 children aged 5-6 will be involved in the study which will be led by Dr Nicola Pitchford, from the School of Psychology at The University of Nottingham.
Children will be tested at the start of the evaluation, in pattern processing, motor co-ordination and simple maths skills before spending 30 minutes each day in the Learning Centre, currently under construction using the Masamu apps on iPad mini tablets.
“They will then be tested again after six weeks later, to examine what learning has taken place among these children compared to other students,” the statement says adding that if the results show significant educational gains, EuroTalk will scale up the project in Malawi. Andrew Ashe, EuroTalk’s managing director observes that in a country like Malawi, where class sizes often exceed 100 pupils, many children don’t get the learning opportunities they so desperately need.
“We believe that high quality, local language, educational applications on tablet technology can be life-changing, and we look forward to seeing what the study reveals,” he said
The goal, EuroTalk says, is to bring the best possible education to one billion children, and the team sees the forthcoming evaluation as a vital step.
The company is using Malawi as a model and depending on how successful it will be, the project will expand to other countries across the world, producing the applications in each child’s local language.
EuroTalk, which was established in 1991, is a company best known for its range of language learning software in over 130 languages, which has been used by more than 20 million people worldwide.