Andhra Pradesh Janmabhoomi (AP Janmbhoomi) is an exclusive online portal for the Telugu community all over the world, geared towards socio-economic development of Andhra Pradesh in particular and India in general.
Created by the Andhra Pradesh government, the project is the first of its kind in terms of an NRI-backed social initiative ever instated by any state government in India.
The government’s aim was to build a bridge between the numerous Telugu-origin NRIs and the state. It picked Jayaram Komati, who lives in California, as the Special Representative for North America for his social work and continued engagement to ensure the welfare of Telugu Community in North America as well as in India.
“My job was to connect the NRIs to their villages and help them do their bit for their motherland and the response was tremendous. The NRIs were so excited to be a part of this project,” Jayaram says, speaking to TBI from California.
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The first project taken up by AP Janmbhoomi was education, with a target to digitize 5,000 government schools by 2018, using the support of NRIs.
The plan has been approved by the commissioner of school education.
Things that would be provided to each government school include: Two computers (Rs 60,000), one projector (Rs 40,000), two KVA UPS or inverter (Rs 40,000), screen kit and installation (Rs 2,000), networking (Rs 3,000) and one printer (Rs 5,000). The total cost would come to Rs. 1, 50,000.
Financial support is being expected from the NRIs on a 70:30 basis with the government, which amounts to $750 or Rs 45,000, which will be 501(c)(3) tax exempted. The donors would also be recognised with an engraved acrylic plate after his/her name. The project is set to be executed by the Commissioner of School Education.
The Digital Classrooms is a teacher-led educational solution that aims to improve the learning outcomes of the school. The programme supplements the delivery of class-specific curriculum in both English and Telugu medium, offline and online, to make the learning experience in classrooms exciting, meaningful and enjoyable. It also focuses on providing digital content from service providers.
The project is set to progress in phases. In October 2016, the assistance of the NRIs led to the first big milestone of this effort as digital classrooms were launched in 302 schools.
Another 400 schools in villages will get digitized by the end of this month, and funds have been collected for almost 1,000 schools.
“This is just the beginning.We target to digitize 5,000 primary and high schools by the end of 2018. There are 42,000 schools, including secondary and higher secondary schools, across the state. Also we are providing only one digital classroom per school right now; we wish to make each and every classroom digital. There’s lot more to be done,” Jayaram explains
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Since implementation, feedback taken from teachers, headmasters and other people associated with these schools show that technology is indeed having a wide-ranging positive effect. The students themselves have been asking for digital classroom sessions, which have improved their concentration and interest levels as the lessons involve songs, stories and other media.
Overall, students are more interested in attending their classes now than ever before. The number of absentees has reduced, enrollments have gone up even before the end of an academic year, and attendance has also increased – one school reportedly experienced an 80-85% jump in the attendance of its students.
The digital classrooms have also helped improve teachers’ performance and the teaching-learning experience.
The issues some teachers faced with the use of technology were tackled with interaction, instruction, and lots of practice.
“We have managed to better the education facilities for all of the 170 students from classes 1 to 5, and six faculty members, with this initiative. Since the installation of the digital classroom, each teacher has been availing one period for a digital class every day,” says Uma Gandhi, Principal of GVMCP Shivaji Palem Government School in Vizag, which is one of the first schools to be benefited by the Digital Classrooms program.
A 3-month internship program was launched to strengthen value delivery in the project.Currently, 150 interns from undergraduate/graduate colleges and universities across the country have been recruited and placed.
Communication interns visit around 100 government schools in the state as part of the 3-month internship program.
Their role is to help teachers with the transition from traditional to digital classroom teaching. A core 20-member team from top management colleges in the country manages these interns.
To ensure that infrastructure is not misused or stolen, a special Digital Classrooms Monitoring Application has been designed. Through this application, live photos of the equipment is uploaded by the school headmasters regularly. Donors can check the usage of digital classrooms directly on the CM Core Dashboard, which flashes live figures regularly updated by every school. This has helped in two aspects – creating trust in the donor and bringing accountability in teachers and headmasters.
AP Janmbhoomi has recently started another programme called the NRI School Connect. As part of the program, NRIs share their experiences with the children and guide them in setting a goal in their lives.
Every Monday a NRI takes an interactive session with the students of the government schools, where the students also take part in a question-and-answer session at the end of the class. This helps the donor keep check on the growth of the students as well as to connect well with the school they have donated to.
Another program is to have an online video session with the government schools of other countries.
“Though language was a barrier initially when our students started interacting with them,by the end of the session they mingled so well that we were short of time,” says Pradeep Karuturi, an active member of AP Janmbhoomi.
AP Janmbhoomi believes that with the help of NRIs and the government, they will soon help the government schools reach on apar with private schools.
“Every state can do it but the government has to take the initiative, the leaders have to come forward,” concludes Jayaram.
Watch the progress here –
If you are an NRI and wish to donate to this initiative then log on to apjanmabhoomi.org or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 9494954659.