Technology has helped create a learning landscape that expands the access of education to citizens living in rural villages and children living in poverty. Enrollment numbers are rising, but children are not learning enough when they enter school. Some children are not able to attend school or drop out because their families face financial challenges that keep them from learning and sometimes have to join the workforce.
Mobile phones help increase literacy rates in developing countries by providing access to reading materials. There are 123 million youth who cannot read or write and most of them do not have any access to books. Schools in Sub-Saharan Africa lack the resources to have textbooks for their students.
UNESCO found that many parents read stories to their children from mobile phones and that it helps empower women as they read six times more than men on their mobile devices.
Liza Villanueva, an Anaheim resident, had another idea for mobile learning: a mobile learning bus that travels between cities.
She created an international foundation to help children in rural villages without access to education in the Philippines through a Girl Scout Project. Her community service requirement through the Girl Scout’s Gold Award created an opportunity for Villanueva to invest her time in helping children. Therefore, the iDream Express was created in the Philippines with the support of local churches volunteering to keep the program running to provide access to education in the Philippines.
Villanueva, who is getting ready for her freshman year in college, travels to the Philippines to visit her family. She found out many of the children on the street were not attending school and developed the learning center to provide access to education for these children.
The organization is only a year old, but Villanueva says that there are about 30 children who show up at the different locations for education from the iDream Express. One challenge is that many children wander from city to city because of their living conditions on the street, which makes it hard to keep track of who is showing up to fulfill educational needs.
“I feel that every country is in need of mobile learning centers because education is not accessible, provided for, or enforced everywhere,” says Villanueva. “I plan to expand iDream Express globally, but next in line are Mexico and India.”
The Philippines ranks 80th in the world in access to basic knowledge. 88.2 percent of people are enrolled in primary school, and 75.8 percent are enrolled in upper secondary education. There are still six million young people who are not enrolled in school in the Philippines.
To help Villanueva expand education in the Philippines and around the world, you can donate to the cause on the iDream Express Crowdrise page.
– Donald Gering
Sources: GSMA, The Guardian, OC Register, Social Progress Imperative, UNESCO