In developed countries, tablets and e-readers have become the solution to large, heavy textbooks. But for Philippine public schools students, even the cheapest model is worth more than what their families make in a month.
In fact, the only gadgets most own are one or two old analog mobiles phones, used mainly for texting.
This is tragic because they're the ones who need a textbook alternative the most. Kids as young as seven must bring up to 22 books daily, leaving them exhausted and unfocused even before their first class—and in many documented cases, afflicted with scoliosis.
We realised: What if you could use these millions of phones to create a new brand of textbook?
Smart, the Philippines' largest telecommunications company, took their mission to "make text light and easy" further than ever as we introduced Smart TXTBKS.
Over six months, we collaborated with respected textbook authors and publishers to refine official school texts into 160-character messages. These were then programmed into the inboxes of thousands of inactive surplus sim cards. Which were then repackaged into new Smart TXTBKS.
So it turned even the oldest analog phones into a new type of e-reader. And old text sim cards into a new brand of textbook.
We launched it in partner schools that needed it most. And a quarter after, this simple—and, in fact, low-tech—solution had made a profound sustainable impact. With school bags 50% lighter, attendance was 95%, while average test performance was 90% during implementation.
And with petitions and pledges from schools, families, and education sector members, TXTBKS is going even further, with plans underway for more subjects and grade levels; kits so schools can reproduce as many TXTBKS as they need for free; and a roll-out across the Philippines.
Fulfilling Smart's mission to make every kind of text light and easy for all.