Optus and The Smith Family - Mobile Student2Student

Research shows that literacy foundations built by children in their primary and early secondary years are crucial to their ability to do well at school. In the long term, good literacy and numeracy skills also contribute to higher levels of education achievement and employability.

The Smith Family’s ‘student2student’ program is a unique and effective program that has helped many students to significantly increase their reading skills. The program works by matching students with reading ‘buddies’ who provide support over the phone two to three times a week.

Increasingly many families do not have access to landline phones in their homes. In 2010, Optus and The Smith Family established a partnership to trial a mobile phone version of the program in selected rural and regional communities. Optus provides the mobile phones and phone credit to run the program.

Outputs

Three years, later the program has expanded from an initial trial of 50 students to 327 matched pairs in 31 sites across Australia. Students who successfully completed the program are given a mobile phone and $100 of phone credit.
 
Last year, 90% of students completed the mobile program and 82% improved their reading based on pre and post testing.
 
One parent, Carrie, from Taree in NSW has two children who have participated in the program, “My son Brody reads so many more books now, he would never have dreamt of picking up a book to read for fun before the program”.

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"Optus has been instrumental in growing this program by providing a mobile phone to children who do not have a home phone line. Their support has helped these children improve their reading and confidence."

According to The Smith Family's CEO, Dr Lisa O'Brien, mobile phones are becoming an integral part of the program.