MANILA — The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has launched a digital math textbook written in the Visayan language, in a bid to improve how the subject is taught in the country.
The learning material called Smart Lecture introduces "a new way to teach math, often one of the most challenging subjects in schools, to young Filipinos," JICA said in a statement on Thursday.
Aside from being written in a local language, Smart Lecture "uses Japan's organized structure and quality explanation while matching it with the Philippine curriculum," the development assistance agency said.
"Improving teaching materials is crucial in enhancing how subjects like math, science, or reading are taught in schools," said JICA chief representative Takema Sakamoto.
"[This] is our way to help build human resources and talent in the Philippines and equip students with critical skills in enhancing international competitiveness," he said.
Through Smart Lecture, students can watch explainer videos linked to paper-based materials. It can also be used in online classes as a supplementary material to teachers' lessons.
"Since the videos are in small data sizes, Filipinos can use it even in weak internet environments and can easily be accessed through mobile phones, computers, and tablets," JICA said.
Smart Lecture was developed in partnership with the Philippines' education department (DepEd), several Japanese firms including textbook company Keirinkan, and non-profit organization e-Education.
Keirinkan earlier conducted a pilot study in Cagayan de Oro, which showed a "significant improvement" in math performance among students who used Smart Lecture, the JICA statement said.
Ninety-five percent of 180 high school teachers surveyed in Cagayan de Oro also expressed interest in using the material, it added.
The project is part of JICA's scheme that taps Japanese companies to introduce their ideas and expertise to Japan's partner countries like the Philippines.
If successful, the DepEd plans to roll out the project in other parts of the Philippines, said JICA.
The Philippines was the second lowest among 79 countries in mathematical literacy in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment, which tests 15-year-old students.
The country was also last among 58 countries in an assessment for mathematics and science for Grade 4 students last 2019.