Rural education in India during and post CORONA/COVID-19

Today, we all are fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, it has costed us human lives, caused economic loss, loss of our freedom, motivation and much more. While every sector/industry is facing losses and challenges due to COVID-19, I am going to discuss about challenges and loss in educational sector especially rural education in this blog. And also open up a dialogue on how to address this challenges.

Currently, due to COVID-19, exams are postponed, schools, colleges, universities are closed. In the beginning they were closed without further notice but it was assumed it will be for short period of time. However, looking at the bleak future, where we do not know when will we get cure or vaccine, everybody has started finding solutions in terms continuing classes via digital medium i.e webinars/video conferencing etc.

One key factor to understand here is the above digital medium is being used by private,international and urban education institutes. But the rural schools, specifically govt rural schools are lagging way behind.

We already know rural govt schools lag behind in infrastructure e.g. but not limited to lack of digital infrastructure (computers, projectors etc)  poor teacher student ratio, low attendance, parents who are unaware of importance of education and lack of their efforts to help their children get educated, financially backward families, non availability of continuous electricity and so on. All this factors make it a teacher dependent education system in rural govt schools, now to replace that with digital platform due to COVID-19 is challenging. On top of it, even if we decide to implement digital/online learning , there is lack of computers, internet, personal mobiles/ devices to connect video calling, webinars etc.

Rural govt schools are currently closed due to summer holidays, ideally they should re open in June first week as per every years process. But this year due to COVID-19, there is no clarity. The situation may result in extension of lock down or even if not, we have still lost a lot of valuable time and this schools may have lost time to finish exams, curriculum, and covering that will take efforts and time.

To prepare for smooth transition of learning for rural children which got disturbed due to COVID-19, we need to push ourselves and think of solutions of making digital learning available to rural children. We have been doing just that in 50 rural schools already. However we realize we were able to provide only digital projector and few laptops. But if situation like COVID-19 persists or in future we have more such situations, we might need to provide individual devices to rural children . As this children belong to financially week families, they do not own personal devices neither have internet.

Thinksharp Foundation is going to extend their thoughts and welcomes views and support on tackling this issue under project StudyMall, StudyMall currently provides library and digital learning facilities. But we are working on extending this to have laptops, individual personal devices etc for uninterrupted learning, for serving rural population.

We want to extend our work to create a financially viable and user friendly option to provide equal digital learning tools for rural children.

We welcome educationists, parent, children, policymakers, fellow NGOs to contribute to pool of ideas and frame solutions to solve this issue . Together lets help rural govt schools and rural children learn uninterrupted during and post COVID-19 period.

Thanks and keep your Human side up that will keep you smiling….

Written by -Dr.Shraddha M Bhange

Volunteer and Writer for Thinksharp Foundation.

Web- www.ThinkSharpFoundation.org

Fb- https://www.facebook.com/ThinkSharpFoundation

Twitter- https://twitter.com/ThinkSharpFound

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-4cDXLuwAThHXhNOazv5KA

Media Coverage- Click to read recent media coverage on National platform

Donate –http://www.thinksharpfoundation.org/#/donate

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Digital Learning – New avatar to our Legacy Learning System!

When my daughter was 2 years old, I started to introduce her to “Good Manners” like washing hands, brushing teeth twice a day etc. I used to repeat my stories and examples so that she can correlate and learn. But most of the times, I was in vain.

One day, I showed her an animated story of how a boy had to pay a visit to dentist for not brushing his teeth during night. That did the trick!! Hurray!! I started showing her more such stories and I was surprised to see the impact on her.

Now in Sr.KG, she has been introduced to Solar System at school.

When I tell her that we all people are lying on the earth and the earth is hanging in the space, she doesn’t seem to have understood. I showed her a video which clearly explains Solar System with nice colourful pictures and good voice-over. Now she not only knows about Earth but also the hottest and coldest planets, the nearest and farthest planets, the Saturn ring etc.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd6nLM2QlWw

And there are many such instances happened between us which reminded me my childhood.

When I was in school, my favourite subject used to be Science where the teacher used to draw colourful images on the black board. Once the picture was understood, it was very easy to write about it in examinations.

I also remember how my Grandmother used to make us watch The Ramayana and Mahabharat movies in Television. Those movies helped us to imagine about Ancient India, the Kings, the British, the Sultan and various reign’s culture.

I understood that; a picture is worth a thousand words.

What does the science say?
A Message from Your Brain: I’m Not Good at Remembering What I Hear.

A new study shows that we are far better at remembering what we see and touch than what we hear.

“I hear and I forget; I see and I remember” – Chinese proverb

“Our auditory memory isn’t as robust as we might like to think it is,” says Poremba. “We think that we are great at integrating all the senses,” but the experiment shows that tactile and visual memory easily trumped auditory memory.

Technology Can Help
Along with Black, technology provides many possibilities for multisensory learning. Interactive computer graphics and videos that add more senses to the mix can “make visual cues much stronger” and “improve visual memory,” she says—and can also increase attention span. In other words, the more varied ways in which you are exposed to and interact with the material, the more likely you will be able to remember it.

Read full article:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/3/140312-auditory-memory-visual-learning-brain-research-science/

This made me understand the reason behind the word. DIGITAL LEARNING echoing all over the world.

Digital Learning is nothing but learning some useful content using digital tools like Smart pads, Projectors, computers, etc. which can provide a better look and feel of the content than that on the paper.

It is a new avatar to our Legacy Learning System!

Digital Learning in Schools
It is merely important to introduce Digital Learning in schools and colleges where a person’s most of the educational phase lies.

Most of the schools and colleges in major parts of India have adapted this new education methodology.

Digital Learning in Schools in Rural India.
Education itself is a challenge in Rural India whose main priority is to earn the livelihood. Parents in rural India would rather send children to earn daily wages.

This is one of the main reasons for school dropouts in rural India.

Child’s lack of interest in studying the textbooks is also another reason for the increase in dropout percentage.

Digital Learning through its interactive and interesting teaching methods will bring back child’s interest towards education thus increasing the nation’s literacy rate.

Irrespective of their location, expert teachers can share their knowledge with kids via  the new digital tools like video conferencing or can store the content in offline form.

Government’s role in promoting Digital Learning in rural India
State as well as Central government has taken initiative to uplift Digital Learning.

The crucial factor is to provide necessary infrastructure in rural areas. Under ‘E-Kranti’, one of the major pillars of Digital India, the government of India has collaborated with various telecom service providers to set-up infrastructure for internet services in remote areas of the country.

However, more efforts are needed, since only 9 percent of rural India has access to the Internet.

In the Union Budget for 2018-19, the government’s focus has been towards improving the quality of education by integrating technology. It has allocated Rs 456 crore for digital education.

Also, Government has collaborated with Samsung to launch their “Smart Class” in around 400 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas across the nation. Samsung is facilitating each “Smart Class” with latest audio-visual tools like Samsung Tablets (41 tabs per class), interactive smartboard, printer and other devices. These classes also have learning apps for Computer Science, Mathematics, English and Science. These latest technology tools help students to learn complicated concepts easily. Samsung Smart Class also enables teachers in retaining the students’ attention due to this modern and interactive learning environment.

More info at: https://www.samsung.com/in/microsite/sapne-hue-bade/stories/smartclass/

Government also has to provide regular trainings to teachers so as to make them well aquintained with the new education system.

NGO and CSR activities
Various Non-Government Organisations and major corporates came forward in promoting Digital Education. For instance:

Vidyadhaanam programme by TATA Motors as part of their CSR activities https://www.tatamotors.com/programs/education/

Plan India NGO working towards promoting Digital Education amongst girls https://www.planindia.org/

Pratham – Pratham Education Foundation

Role of Thinksharp Foundation
Being an accused of this rural urban education divide, Santosh Phad, the founder of ThinkSharp Foundation, has started “StudyMall” a complete Digital Class, in rural areas of Maharashtra.

Study Mall offers a complete solution and infrastructure (All in one projector which run on remote and consume less electricity) needed for rural schools. ( Below pic- Z.P School, Aswalamba, Tq.parli,Dist.Beed)

Projector includes-

  • All educational content aligned with state board syllabus
  • Other educational content (Offline Wikipedia), ICT content, preloaded educational videos
  • It connects with WIFI, teachers can connect with internet through HOTSPOT and can show students various educational and cultural content
  • Also can connect pen drive to show some offline content
  • can operate on wireless keyboard and Mouse
  • Easy to use: even though are teachers not available in school, any student can operate the digital tools.

Few glimpses of Digital Learning in Study Malls

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO-uMu5o2AI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEYfKAv9sHU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mPmANntjLc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTUSw6xhmPA

Buy few advantages and get a disadvantage free!!

When misused, every fair advantage has its equal counterparts. Digital Learning too has a bundle of cons which should be addressed.

  • Moving to digital doesn’t mean replacing the teachers. Digital learning should happen under the guidance of well trained teachers. Government should conduct trainings at frequent intervals to teachers so that they can hone their digital and infrastructure skills.
  • Complete shift of education to digital is not advisable as that will not enable students to learn the regional transcript. There should be hybrid mode where in digital tools will be used on demand to aid the legacy education system.
  • As digital involves laptops, LCD screens, smart pads which strain the eyes leading to eyesight issues. Necessary precautions have to be taken while watching the smart pads.
  • Ensuring proper ergonomics is mandatory while sitting before laptops and computers else improper posture leads to several spine issues.
  • Students should be trained to use the mouse in correct angles which otherwise would cause “tendonitis” , an inflammation or irritation of a tendon, a thick cord that attaches bone to muscle

Hence, Too much is too bad. Moderation is the key to success.

In a Nut Shell
Education is the only weapon to eradicate poverty in India and to change the face of current rural areas. When the best of it is provided to students, it can remove the word “Rural” from India’s dictionary.

While urban population can afford the digital tools, it is government’s responsibility to provide necessary infrastructure to rural schools.

Together with the collaboration of government and Non-government organizations, the divide between rural and urban education can be reduced thus making the young India achieve par excellence.

Happy learning!!

Written By – Malathi Krishna (malathi123in@gmail.com)

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Tips on usage of computer by Dr.Varsha for our ComputerMitra beneficiaries

StudyMall is helping more than 5000 rural children read,learn and do better in studies. StudyMall has reached 33 schools in 33 villages of Maharashtra. Recently we launched computer learning program “ComputerMitra” with help of NIIT foundation, where our volunteer teaches computer  for period of 3 months to a batch of students from 6th and 7 th std at Z.P.School of village Jambargaon and at end of this course (once they pass exam), they get certified by NIIT foundation as computer literates. But with technology, comes few health disadvantages which are preventable and we decided to create awareness regarding same.

Our volunteer Dr.Varsha, (Dr.Varsha contact page),  a well known respected medical doctor from Mumbai, decided to help us. On occasion of children’s eye health and safety month, took a audiovisual presentation via internet call for our  children enrolled in “Computer Mitra program” at Z.P.School Jambargaon. She explained to children regarding various precautions they need to take while using computer. She made sure to carry the presentation in easy and concise manner which can be understood by children. Despite lot of connectivity issues due to network errors in remote village, she patiently connected with chidlren and provided us her time.

Now the children of ComputerMitra program know : How to sit in front of the computer i.e. at eye level, to sit in a straight posture on chair without bending while using computer, the source of light should be not be on screen while using computer, and to hold mouse properly at wrist joint and many such other tips.

Children were so happy and motivated to listen from Dr.Varsha . We intent to integrate technology to have such helpful session on various topics for our StudyMall project in future too.

You can  also become our partner organisation,supporter, volunteer to conduct such interesting sessions for children and additionally, you can choose to donate for our cause. Check  for more details on our website.

Written by -Dr.Shraddha M Bhange

Volunteer and Writer for Thinksharp Foundation.

Website- www.ThinkSharpFoundation.org

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/ThinkSharpFoundation

Twitter- https://twitter.com/ThinkSharpFound

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-4cDXLuwAThHXhNOazv5KA

Instgram- https://www.instagram.com/p/BYK3W-ihWJj/

Linkedin- https://in.linkedin.com/company/thinksharp-foundation

 

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Impact Stories of StudyMall- Better rural education in villages

StudyMall is helping more than 5000 rural children read,learn and do better in studies. StudyMall has reached 33 schools in 33 villages of Maharashtra. While we do have many impact parameters and impact stories, today i would like to share 2 little recent stories about impact of StudyMall. This stories are shared from teachers of our StudyMall project with us.

One of our respected and committed teacher is Mr.Prakash Rajput sir who shares his message regarding impact of StudyMall in Z.P.School of Village Murumkhedwadi, Dist Aurangabad as below. He shared his heartfelt thanks with  us for sending computer in his small village located in mountains. He shared the joy of happiness that he witnessed on children’s faces when they saw the computer in their school. He is one of  our strongest supporter of digital education, who not only teaches children about digital technology but also shares about digital teaching tools with his fellow teachers via whatsapp group created for teachers. His commitment is inspirational and we are happy to have him as our team member. Students are equally committed in learning and reading better in this school.
His exact message is copied from whatsapp below which is in marathi.
*”Thanks to Thinksharp Foundation”**आज दि. ७/८/२०१८ रोजी मुरुमखेडावाडी शाळेत संगणक पोहचला व डोंगराळ भागात असलेल्या चिमुकल्यांनी प्रत्यक्ष शाळेत संगणक आलेला पाहून त्यांचा आनंद व उत्साह जणू वेगळी भरारी घेऊ पाहत होता.**मागील आठवडयात शाळेत असलेला Led Tv वर्गात बसविला पण पेनड्राईव्हची असलेली मर्यादा व विद्यार्थ्यांना पी.डी.एफ तथा Ppt दाखविता येऊ शकत नव्हते .**श्री संतोष फड सरांना याविषयी बोललो तेव्हा सरांनी त्यांच्या मिञांमार्फत Hp कंपनीचा Cpu उपलब्ध करुन दिला . सर फ्रान्सला गेलेले असतांना परदेशातून ही ते आपल्या मातीशी किती जुळले आहेत त्यांची प्रचिती मला आली.* *सरांचे या योगदानाबद्दल संपूर्ण शाळेच्या तसेच विद्यार्थ्यांच्या वतीने आभार
*प्रकाशसिंग राजपूत*व*दिलीप आढेसर*”
Another impact story is from  our partner school Z.P school, Aswalamba, Parli.V shared by our respected teacher Mr.Maharudra Katkade sir. He is sharing how digital learning is helping students from 6th std students to understand maths concepts better. He shares about his experience regarding how digital projector has made  it easy for him to teach difficult math concepts to 6th standard students.
His exact message is in marathi copied below
“*आज standard 6th च्या मुलांना प्रोजेक्टर वर संख्या रेषा वरील क्रिया,अपूर्णांक,सम मूल्य अपूर्णांक video मधून दाखवला आणि तो लगेच मुलांना समजला क्लास मध्ये ब्लॅक बोर्ड वर 2 वेळा शिकवला पण मुलांना समजत नव्हता…..जिल्हा परिषद प्राथमिक शाळा अस्वलांबा ता.परळी वैजनाथ जिल्हा.बीड*”
Stories like this give us an insight about how simple additional tools can help students,teachers and community in rural parts to achieve their best.
We thank all our supporters, donors and partner organizations for there help and support in creating this impact.
You can  also become our partner organisation,supporter, volunteer and you can choose to donate for our cause. Check  for more details on our website.

Written by -Dr.Shraddha M Bhange

Volunteer and Writer for Thinksharp Foundation.

Website- www.ThinkSharpFoundation.org

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/ThinkSharpFoundation

Twitter- https://twitter.com/ThinkSharpFound

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-4cDXLuwAThHXhNOazv5KA

Instgram- https://www.instagram.com/p/BYK3W-ihWJj/

Linkedin- https://in.linkedin.com/company/thinksharp-foundation

 

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Yoga Day celebrated by our little Yogi’s of StudyMall

On occasion of International Yoga day observed on Friday 21 June 2019, our partner schools enthusiastically took part in Yoga Day. All of our 30 centres in rural areas, participated by conducting Yoga Session with our young students from 1st std to 10th std with their teachers.

StudyMall promotes learning by providing various educational infrastructure in rural schools. Currently we focus on providing library and digital aids e.g. projector embedded with school syllabus and an option to link it to internet.With availability of such improved tools in rural schools, it fosters positive environment to conduct additional activities such as YOGA Day.

We are very thankful to have teachers who support and carry out such activities while fully using the provided infrastructure.

YOGA is our ancient practise which is accepted by people from all over the world as a physical, mental and spiritual discipline that brings good health and relaxation.

If you want to help us in creating such positive stories and impact for our future generations and help these little “Yogi’s” to become strong force behind building our nation, Join us now.

Written by -Dr.Shraddha M Bhange

Volunteer and Writer for Thinksharp Foundation.

Website- www.ThinkSharpFoundation.org

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/ThinkSharpFoundation

Twitter- https://twitter.com/ThinkSharpFound

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-4cDXLuwAThHXhNOazv5KA

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