The Solar Powered Tablet That Is Changing The Education Scenario In Rural Karnataka

These mobile tablets make learning fun by using different tools and activities that enable kids in rural India to have an extraordinary experience. Know more about the amazing initiative of edZilla and how it works.

If you happen to visit the government school in Rampura, a sleepy village in Kanakpura at the outskirts of Bangalore, you will see kids peering over tablets and using them with an easy flair. They will be eager to show you how to use it if you are seen fumbling. They will show you how to navigate and open chapters and take quizzes in Math, English and Science – all from their curriculum.

Their teacher is quick to add that the content on the tablets includes not just everything from the textbooks but also additional information that increases the ‘general knowledge’ of the kids. She admits that it has helped her teach better and is glad to have this resource available to her.

On the teacher’s cue, the kids in unison, break into a poem recitation in English with wide smiles and proper pronunciations. Even this they have learnt from their tablets which has a feature to teach them proper pronunciation and poem recitals.

They also know how solar energy can be used to power their tablets and give you a demo of the same.

The tablet is low cost and user friendly.

The tablet is low-cost and user-friendly.

edZilla – educating rural India, village by village

The tablets being referred to here are a result of the efforts of Dr. Rajugopal Gubbi and Mrs. Prabha Mysore, the founders of edZilla. After more than two decades of successful careers, they founded edZilla to develop technology-based solutions that would improve the quality of education in rural India.

Textbook on tablet is one such software solution which brings the vernacular school syllabus content onto the low-cost tablets. These tablets are then provided free of cost to rural schools that have a severe shortage of teachers. The introduction of tablets has given a glimpse into the latest technology and motivated both the teachers and students of these rural schools. The government school in Rampura is one of the many rural schools around Kanakpura area in Karnataka that have benefited through edzilla.

edZilla partners with existing NGOs to reach out to schools.

edZilla partners with existing NGOs to reach out to schools.

How do they operate

edZilla engages NGOs that are already operating in the area of rural education and enables them with this technology. It helps NGOs raise funds and in turn these NGOs purchase the tablets and provide them to rural schools in their respective focus areas.

Under the EducateZilla program, edZilla provides the software, content and support free-of-cost to these schools. The content in the tablets is pre-loaded and updated periodically by the edZilla team, thereby eliminating the need for additional infrastructure to connect to any mobile or wireless network. The NGOs are also responsible for running this program on a day-to-day basis while edZilla provides close monitoring, progress tracking and program management to ensure maximum benefit to the children in those rural schools.

Kids have quickly learnt English poetry and correct pronunciation of words.

Kids have quickly learnt English poetry and correct pronunciation of words.

Deployment and Partnerships

The ‘Textbook on Tablet’ program was first piloted with the help of their NGO partner, Sikshana in 2013 in three rural schools in Kanakapura taluk. CSR India and another charitable group EqualSky were the initial sponsors. The Mindtree Foundation also joined hands in 2014 and sponsored five more schools in Kanakpura. Consequently, in this academic year, nine schools around Kanakpura have been reached out to which are run with the help of Sikshana.

Another NGO partner, Vyshnavi Foundation, has sponsored three schools in the Tumkur region and is overseeing the program on a day-to-day basis.

edZilla has also collaborated with Blueray solar, another social entrepreneurship, to deploy solar chargers at schools where the power supply is not reliable. This makes the school self-reliant and enables them to charge the tablets and use them as much as they want during the school hours.

The tablets are distributed free of cost.

The tablets are distributed free of cost.

Content creation

Content being the backbone of their solution, eDzilla has an impressive online content creation / verification tool. Using this tool, anyone can login from the comfort of their homes and unleash their creativity to teach children through the content that they put together.

Quite understandably, they need volunteers who are creative and who can understand the content creation tool. In this regard, Youth For Seva has helped them get many qualified volunteers for this cause. EqualSky also introduced to them many well-qualified volunteers, especially for English. It has still been an uphill task to get the right volunteers, especially for Kannada medium curriculum, who have an aptitude for Mathematics, Science or social sciences, and are also comfortable and patient enough to use an online tool. Mindtree has helped in sponsoring a couple of employees at edZilla who help with some of this work load.

Tablets can be recharged through solar power.

Tablets can be recharged through solar power.

Marching towards quality education at every zilla…

In less than a year, edZilla has seen the rural school children getting more confident in Mathematics and English, the focus subjects initially. Thanks to the application’s intuitive interface, it has been very easy for the school children to use it and has made learning fun.

Usage of tablets added more than 250 tab-hours of quality learning in about 3 months from Mid-Nov 2013 to Mid-Feb 2014 when this program was first deployed. In their second year, this program has grown from 50+ children in three schools to 500+ children in 12 schools.

In the next few years, besides improving their content further by way of virtual lab experiments and visual representations, Dr. Gubbi and Mrs. Prabha are hoping to add at least one NGO per year in other rural regions in Karnataka where their current partner-NGOs are not operating. Eventually, depending upon the volunteers (for creating vernacular content), they hope to reach out to other states in India.

With constant support from the sponsors and volunteers and the consistent efforts of the founders, edZilla has significant potential to improve the quality of rural education in India and looks set to achieve their mission of “Quality education in every Zilla”.

If you wish to volunteer or sponsor their cause, you can read more about it here and here. For more details email: [email protected] or call Dr. Gubbi at: +91 9880802385.

Like this story? Or have something to share? Write to us: [email protected], or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter (@thebetterindia).

About the author: Having spent many years in the IT sector, Samta Gupta’s passions for writing and development work led her towards The Better India, where she now contributes on a regular basis.

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