A mobile phone and a TV is all it takes to transform the learning experience at a Corporation school

The students are arranged in dizzyingly neat rows. Their gaze is directed to one corner of the first-floor room, where G. Zareena Banu is orchestrating the next chorus with a Nokia C7 handset.

As she runs her fingers on the phone, an image slowly scrolls up the television set.  Where is the ball in this picture, she asks, and the 54 class V students at the Chennai Corporation Urdu Girls Middle School, Old Washermenpet shout back in unison, “It is between the boxes.”

Ms. Zareena is one of the teachers who received the ‘Global BridgeIT Award for Excellence in Teaching’ given by the Pearson Foundation, which recognises select teachers in schools where their BridgeIT Programme has been implemented.

The school at Old Washermenpet is one of the 46 Chennai Corporation schools where the programme has been implemented since 2011 by Pearson Foundation, EZ Vidya and Nokia.

The phone comes pre-loaded with English and Science content mapped to the class V and VI syllabi and can be connected to a television in the school. “All the students, including many first-generation learners, are interested. They really enjoy watching the content on the television and the classes are very interactive,” said Ms. Zareena. The content, she said, was especially helpful in teaching grammar.

A Corporation official said that students were quite involved in the programme. In a letter, Mark Neiker, president and CEO, Pearson Foundation, writes that since 2003, BridgeIT has worked with local partners to provide a professional development to over 15,000 teachers in 10 countries.

Chitra Ravi, CEO, EZ Vidya, said the three-year programme covered schools in Andhra Pradesh and Haryana as well. Have you ever missed school during the “TV classes”, the students were asked. And, the answer was a resounding ‘No.’

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