“In one of the government schools in Rajasthan’s Taranagar, we were interacting with children about their goals and dreams. One thing that struck me was the lack of variety in their responses to the question. The answers were pretty much the same; they either wanted to become a teacher, a farmer or a soldier. Because these were pretty much the only professions they were aware of, the ones they had seen being practiced,” recalls Ashwin Srihari.
Ashwin is one of the fellows at Piramal Foundation for Educational Leadership that aims at introducing digital learning in government schools in Taranagar in Rajasthan.
Under a project titled Kaleidoscope, the foundation dreams of transforming classrooms in 45 government schools in Taranagarinto smart classrooms by installing computers, projectors, printers and internet connectivity.
At a time when internet penetration has reached the nooks and corners of metro cities, rural India still remains largely unconnected to the magical world that is the World Wide Web. Education too is advancing at a faster rate in cities, especially in private schools, and computers, internet, projectors and audio-visual learning have become a part and parcel of it all. On the other hand, education in the rural parts of India remains at a standstill, largely employing the same old methods.
One of the alumni of the government school in the Kalwas village in Churu district of Rajasthan, Jogendra Singh relates his own experience to highlight the issue.
“After completing my schooling from the village school, when I went to apply for a job in the Navy, I realised that the knowledge of computers was necessary. I had never used a computer before and therefore faced a lot of difficulty during the application procedure. It’s not about just this one job. Today, basic knowledge of computers is a prerequisite for almost any white collar job. It’d be really beneficial if we could have computer education at the school level,” says Jogendra.
Project Kaleidoscope aims to improve the quality of education by providing teachers with digital tools and students with computer literacy. While the lack of manpower still remains one of the biggest issues in government schools, Ashwin believes that the teachers would be able to perform much better, even singlehandedly, with the assistance of technology.
“Often parents, who earn less than ₹100 per day, spend their entire live savings sending their kids to private schools. They are under the perception that only private schools can provide their kids with quality education and state of the art facilities. There’s a shortage of resources as well as manpower in government schools and that’s where we are trying to make a change. We wish to provide the technological assistance that’s required,” says Ashwin.
Team Project Kaleidoscope has been chalking out the project by working closely with the staff of the schools in Taranagar.
They have found that the students are able to understand and apply concepts better when lessons are presented to them in an interactive digitised format. The team conducted smart sessions in various schools to consolidate the findings and witnessed a huge boost in the enthusiasm in students about learning.
“Project Kaleidoscope is a four-phase pilot project. Phase 1 of Project Kaleidoscope aims to digitally enable 10 schools, which in turn will spearhead the phases to come. Under the project, each school would get 3 computers, 3 projectors, one printer and an internet connection,” informs Ashwin.
The project wouldn’t stop at installing the equipment in the schools, but plans to take it further by making educational software available and training teachers in e-teaching.
“We are going to provide schools with in-class software that Government of Rajasthan has created based on textbook syllabus. We also plan to use software from Khan Academy to centralise content. Meanwhile, we are working on creating a separate curriculum to train teachers to use smart class efficiently,” says Ashwin.
Project Kaleidoscope is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Milaap. To contribute to the fundraiser, click here.