Over the years, rural education has undergone a series of reforms, infrastructure development plans, increases in enrolment, and quality improvement initiatives. However, there is still much work to be done, and eVidyaloka is an organisation that has been making a headway in improving rural education through technology.
“If you look at some of the rural government schools in India, you’ll see that there is one teacher teaching three classes! It makes no sense, and these children deserve more. This is where eVidyaloka comes in,” says Namrata Joshi, who is a program manager at eVidyaloka.
The brainchild of Venkatramanan Sriraman and Satish Viswanathan, who are engineers by profession, the organisation was born when Satish wrote an article on how technology could be used for education, and the two teamed up to develop a sustainable business model for the same.
eVidyaloka aims to give rural students the education they deserve. As part of the program, students get to interact with volunteer teachers online and are personally taught according to a carefully constructed syllabus.
According to Namrata, digital classrooms can really help uplift rural education and allows students to gain access to resources and knowledge on an entirely wholesome level!
Recently, eVidyaloka conducted Rubaru, a signature event designed to celebrate the rural-urban connect. Leaders with prominent roles in education interacted with students, in a platform which was dedicated to discussing how to drive inclusive education in India.
The event consisted of two events—Joy of Connecting and National Student Innovation Challenge (NSIC). Joy of Connecting is an outreach program that allows for interaction between rural Indian children and urban India.
This is a 60-minute session, in which corporates, institutes, and communities get to interact with children from rural India.
“It is informal, like an icebreaker. The kids ask them anything, and they, in turn, learn more about the way these children live. At the end of it all, people leave with an understanding of how easy it is to connect via technology to rural India,” she says.
On the other hand, the NSIC is a competition wherein students from rural and urban schools work together to come up with solutions according to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The collaborations are mentored by a volunteer, and over the course of three months, the teams were narrowed down, until the final students presented at the finale event held in Bangalore!
“The organisation is really doing a wonderful job. My students got the opportunity to interact with rural students, and for many of them it was their first time,” recounts Usha Ravi, the Principal of the Regency School.
In fact, students of the Regency School placed among the top five in the NCIS competition, in a project on gender equality, in which they worked closely with children from government schools to distribute questionnaires, and spread awareness on the issue.
“I would love to know more about what I can do to help improve education for the students myself,” Usha adds.
Despite all these remarkable endeavours, the real success of Rubaru lies in its ability to bring together more than 100 Chief Experience Officers (CxOs), educators, and bureaucrats, under one roof to discuss how things could change.
“It was amazing to see all of them in one room. These are the people who have the power to affect a widespread change. The students got to interact with them, learn from their experiences, and it was the perfect platform to engage in dialogue,” explains Namrata.
eVidyaloka continues to spread awareness on the need to improve education in India. Through its use of online and digital classrooms, it is trying to bridge the gap between the current state of education, and the place it ought to be—in its own way!