THE Smith Family's peer-to-peer reading program, student2student, has gone mobile to help more children from disadvantaged backgrounds across regional Australia improve their literacy thanks to an extended partnership with Optus.
The impact of low literacy skills can negatively influence a child's level of educational achievement, employability, earnings and social participation.
Student2student seeks to improve reading literacy in poor readers aged 8-12 years in communities where The Smith Family has a presence. And the program is already showing signs of success.
Bunda, a nine year old indigenous student in Year 4 at Primary School in Toowoomba was struggling with his reading before starting the student2student mobile program. His reading buddy, Danielle, is a 13 year old student in Year 8 at High School and has participated in student2student for the last two years, volunteering her time as a buddy.
Every Wednesday and Thursday evening, Danielle calls Bunda on the mobile phone provided by Optus. Bunda reads to Danielle for a period of 20 minutes and Danielle provides him with support and encouragement as Bunda reads aloud.
The same books are provided for both the student and buddy by The Smith Family.
Bunda's mother, Naomi, said that Bunda was thoroughly enjoying the student2student program.
"He looks forward to Danielle calling and listening to him read, and can't wait until after the school holidays so they can continue".
Bunda's time with Danielle as his mentor has helped to improve his reading skills and confidence in equal measure.
Each participant in The Smith Family's student2student pilot program will receive an Optus mobile handset, prepaid credit, guidelines for responsible mobile phone use.
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