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….
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
Written By – Malathi Krishna (firstname.lastname@example.org)
While the whole world is advancing and transitioning to digital, most of the rural India is still struggling to have schools and libraries.
School Library: The Focal point
What is a Library? A Library is a building or room containing collections of books, periodicals, and sometimes films and recorded music for use or borrowing by the public or the members of an institution.
In addition to providing materials, libraries also provide the services of librarians who are experts at finding and organizing information and at interpreting information needs.
Libraries often provide quiet areas for studying, and they also often offer common areas to facilitate group study and collaboration. Libraries often provide public facilities for access to their electronic resources and the Internet.
Modern Library – beyond books:
Modern libraries are increasingly being redefined as places to get unrestricted access to information in many formats and from many sources. They are extending services beyond the physical walls of a building, by providing material accessible by electronic means.
Libraries are increasingly becoming community hubs where programs are delivered and people engage in lifelong learning. As community centers, libraries are also becoming increasingly important in helping communities mobilize and organize for their rights.
Library policy is ruled by Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation – RRRLF:
RRRLF is a central autonomous organization established and fully financed by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. RRRLF is registered under the West Bengal Societies Registration Act, 1961. It is the nodal agency of the Government of India to support public library services and systems and promote public library movement in the country commensurate with the objectives as embodied in its Memorandum of Association.
The supreme policy-making body of RRRLF is called the Foundation. It consists of 22 members nominated by the Government of India from amongst eminent educationists, librarians, administrators and senior officials. The Minister of the Department of Culture, Government of India or his nominee is the Chairman of RRRLF. Professor Brij Kishore Sharma is the present Chairman of RRRLF and Director General is the executive head and ex-officio Member-Secretary of the Foundation.
The Foundation works in close association and active cooperation with different State Govts. and Union Territory Administrations through a machinery called State Library Planning Committee (SLPC/SLC) set up in each State at the instance of the Foundation. To participate in Foundation’s programs, a State Government/U.T. is required to contribute a certain amount fixed by the Foundation.
Since 2005-06 the Foundation has also taken up the initiative to develop the District Youth Resource Centre (DYRC) in collaboration with Nehru Yuvak Kendra Sangathana, an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Sports & Youth Affairs.
School Library Policy says:
One period a week to be devoted to library reading.
During this time, children sit and read silently in the library. They return the books borrowed the previous week and borrow new ones.
If there is no library room, the teacher can bring out books appropriate to the age group and allow children to choose from the set.
It is important to let the child choose rather than having the teacher distribute the books.
Library books can be brought into the language class.
For class projects, children can be asked to look up a reference in the library.
Children can be asked to write about the book they have read that week during the language class.
Children can be asked to share a story they have read with the other children in class.
The school library should be kept open during vacations.
Current status of availability of School Libraries
People who are worried about their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter can’t imagine remotely using school or public libraries. Commercialization of education has now added a new dimension to the existing problems of school education.
School libraries in India, wherever they exist, face a multitude of problems ranging from inadequate space for keeping books and reading space in school buildings to less trained staff.
Non availability of regular funds for acquiring reading materials is a major problem faced by school libraries in government and semi-government sector.
These schools have only amalgamated funds and parent-teacher association fund from which only a limited number of approved books can be purchased.
Schools in the private sector do not have much of a problem with funds but availability to library is subject to priority given to it by Head of School.
The collections have not grown beyond the prescribed books in the syllabus with a few exceptions.
Even the books approved by state directorates of education neither are of good quality nor directly relevant.
The ad-hoc system of school libraries is running throughout the length and breadth of the country in the absence of any specific guidelines and standards for their sustained growth.
Rural schools are lagging behind the urban ones in terms of professionally trained library staff.
There are no incentives for trained staff for working in rural schools, besides the problems mentioned earlier are manifested to a greater degree.
While there is need for training of professional librarians, mechanisms have not been developed and avenues are not available for this.
Importance of School Library
In many parts of the country, community libraries are functioning in rural areas, and government libraries exist in many district headquarters.
However, commute to these common libraries by children is challenging.
Hence, in order to maximize the use of resources, it is important to plan a library in each school.
Library enables a child to attain great wisdom at almost free of cost.
Library and book reading not only improves reading habits but also a child’s imagination.
Children can learn about:
Different countries, people, traditions, languages, flora, fauna
Various scientists, freedom fighters, world wars,
Planets, the vast space, aero science etc.
And the list goes on thus strengthening the young India, capable to transform the world to a new era.
This will also increase the nation’s literacy rate by heaps and bounds.
So powerful the books are!
Despite this fact, why is it still a challenge to instill reading as a hobby?
Possible reasons children not keen in reading books
Unable to focus reading for long time
Unaware of the kind of books to read
Unable to find out own interests to choose a book
Lack of guidance from parents and teacher
Tips to encourage children visiting libraries and reading books
Initially, children need guidance on book reading. Children learn what they watch most of the time!!
Book reading should either be a hobby of parents or best friends so that a child can watch and learn.
In this busy life, it is rare to notice book reading as a hobby of parents. And that too in rural India, it is almost impossible!
Teachers and librarians play a major role in encouraging book reading.
While the Policy has already mentioned most of the tips, below are few more:
Allow children to read a book and conduct activities like:
These will not only improve child’s reading ability but also their personality and confidence.
Let children participate in various inter-school competitions
While conducting awareness programs on “book reading”, it will be a good idea to involve children.
Children’s speech has more impact as they stand true examples!!
Besides academics, library should provide access to:
Newspapers – English and local language
Moral story books
Personality development books like You Can Win!
English grammar books like Wren & Martin
Dictionaries – English to local language translation
Aptitude and mathematics books for Competitive examinations like Ramanuja Test and CV Raman Tests (for Secondary schools)
State, India and World maps
Depending on the students’ interest, books on gardening, farming etc can also be added so that students will be aware of backyard farming.
Various NGOs work closely on Child Education and School Libraries. Few of them are:
The organization was founded on the belief that quality education is the undeniable right of every child and that children should not be deprived of this just because they do not have access to it or the resources to realise their dreams. — https://akshara.org.in/
Room to Read seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in low-income communities by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Working in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments, we develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the relevant life skills to succeed in school and beyond. — https://www.roomtoread.org/countries/india/
Last but not the least; ThinkSharpFoundation has also extended its hand in promoting education in rural India.
ThinkSharp Foundation is a non-profit organization established in 2011 with a vision
“To bridge the Rural-Urban education divide”.
Overcoming the space issues, ThinkSharp foundation has come up a project of “StudyMall” with a new idea of “Modular Hanging Library” .