Optus has been instrumental in growing our ‘student2student’ program, which helps students 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.
For four years, Optus has been providing a mobile phone to children who do not have a home phone line. 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. Mobile phones are now an integral part of the program.
The program is now national and has expanded from an initial trial of 50 students to 500 matched pairs in 39 sites across Australia. Students who successfully completed the program were given the mobile phone and $100 of phone credit.
Last year, 90 per cent of the 320 participating students completed the mobile program with 82 per cent improving their reading based on pre and post testing. In addition, a significant majority of students said they felt more confident with their school work and almost all parents said they child reads more after completing the program.
Over the next year, Optus and The Smith Family aim to reach 600 disadvantaged students across Australia through the mobile ‘student2student’ program.