Turning old phones into textbooks

Schoolwork can feel like a burden at times, but for kids in the Philippines, it is literally a heavy load. While classrooms in developed nations are shifting towards e-books and tablets, Philippine children still carry piles of textbooks to school every day, which puts them at risk of scoliosis.

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However, lightweight electronic alternatives cost much more than most families can afford.

Knowing that millions of Filipinos own old analogue cellphones, telecoms company Smart Communications and an advertisement agency, DM9 JaymeSyfu, have come up with an ingenious, low-tech solution to the textbook problem, "Smart TXTBKS".

They turn old phones into e-readers and surplus SIM cards into mini-electronic textbooks.

With the help of textbook authors, they condense English, maths and science lessons into simple, 160-character text messages and load them onto the inboxes of inactive SIM cards.

Pilot studies have been promising, with schoolbags averaging half the weight they used to be.

And teachers no longer scold school kids for checking their cellphone messages.

VALENTINE PASQUESOONE/SPARKNEWS