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Last Updated: Friday, 16 May, 2003, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Filipinos get mobile science
Mobile phone sending text messaging
Could mobiles vastly improve education in the Philippines?

Mobile phones are to be used to bring up-to-date learning to some of the remotest parts of the Philippines.

The country's government, together with the UN Development Programme and the International Youth Federation, will install a system in 40 elementary schools which uses video messaging to send science lessons.

The 1m project will allow teachers to use order them via text messaging.

Recorded lessons will downloaded and connected to a television in the classroom, where pupils can watch experiments and learn scientific theory.

'Innovative tools'

This knowledge was previously unavailable because of the remoteness of the schools, which lack laboratories and other necessary equipment to offer subjects like chemistry and biology.

"The purpose is not to supplant textbooks as a primary source of information, but rather to supplement these traditional modes of learning with innovative tools that aid in the retention of knowledge among the children and youth," said Jaime Augusto Zobel, chairman of the Ayala Foundation, a charity dedicated to improving educational standards in the Philippines.

The education content firm Pearson will provide the video lessons and the mobile phone manufacturer Nokia will provide the hardware.

Students will be able to view the videos as often as they want to supplement their classroom learning.

Filipino President Gloria Arroyo formally launched the BridgeIT project, which gets under way in June.

One in five people own a mobile phone in the Philippines, despite 40% of the population living on less than a dollar a day.

If the project proves successful, it is hoped it can be used in other poor countries where providing an education remains difficult in remote areas.

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