There is a wide and growing interest in the use of mobile telephony to improve education service outcomes. The first part of the report identifies the key lessons learned and recommendations for policy makers relating to the use of mobile telephony to improve education service outcomes, though with a general focus on mobile phone-assisted learning. The second part identifies a number of projects that have taken place or are taking place in post-conflict environments which make use of, in some way, mobile telephony. The third section identifies a number of projects that relate to using mobile telephones and other mobile devices for data management in relation to education.
Key findings The main interest in the use of mobile telephony is by bilateral and multilateral donors, private foundations, non-governmental organisations, academic researchers and private companies, many of whom are associated with the Mobiles for Education (mEducation) Alliance. This Alliance aims to “reduce barriers to access appropriate, scalable, and low-cost mobile technologies to help improve learning outcomes in formal and non-formal education across all levels, especially in low-resource and developing country contexts” (USAID 2013a).
Mobile telephony in education is often associated with the wider use of electronic technology in education, and in some projects mobile phones are used in conjunction with other technology systems (e.g. Genevois & Sylla 2013). Mobile telephones have been used to assist in teaching students (e.g. Yacoobi 2013), training teachers (Loiret & Le Quentrec 2013) and keeping students and parents informed about school information (e.g. Lloveras & Korenblum 2012). As well as directly helping with learning, they can be useful for education-related payments, especially in environments with poor financial infrastructure (e.g. HaitiLibre 2013; BBC 2012; USAID 2013c). Some projects have used small handheld devices that have functions similar to mobile phones (e.g. GPS, ability to run applications) but not the ability to send and receive calls and texts (e.g. Belizaire & Hermes 2012).
These interventions use mobile telephony to:
- provide emergency information to students and parents (Gaza Strip: Souktel and UNESCO);
- develop and distribute an education curriculum (Afghanistan: EXE & Ustad Mobile Software);
- provide payments for parents and teachers (Haiti and Afghanistan: Mobile Payments for Education);
- train school teachers (Madagascar: Mobile Phone-Assisted Teacher Training);
- to assist with literacy classes (Afghanistan: Using Mobile Phones to Accelerate Literacy Education);
- produce a national map of schools (School Mapping: National Mapping and Analysis of Catholic Schools in Haiti);
- monitor improvements in education (Education Quality Indicator Tracking: Edutrack);
- produce a school census (Educational Planning: School Census by Mobile Phone Technology).