Enabling digital education in rural India, despite all odds.
eVidyaloka is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on transforming the educational landscape of rural India. Registered under the Trusts Act, the organization creates digital classrooms for children in remote villages, with the support of local communities and Volunteer Teachers from across the globe. With standardized lesson plans and teaching aids for a consistent learning experience, the children from government schools receive quality education for a promising and rewarding future.
On March 15, 2020, all schools across India were closed due to the COVID19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown. 290 million children in India were affected as schools were shut and economic insecurity layered on to the health & life threat that loomed large on rural India. Recent reports have emerged that the impact of the pandemic has led to millions of children being out of school.
The eVidyaloka Digital Classroom Program wherein volunteer teachers from across the globe teach children in rural government schools by leveraging technology, was also affected. Children from rural government schools couldn’t immediately transition to online classes like most of their counterparts in urban schools.
To counter this and ensure that rural India continues its learning, eVidyaloka worked towards a learning model with the rural context and limitations in mind.
The Learn from Home (LFH) multi-modal approach enabled them to bridge the gap of learning. The model stemmed from piloting the concept of learning from home during emergencies. While live classes on smartphones were seen as the fastest route to reach the students, the access to the internet and availability of smartphones for children was the biggest impediment. To counter this, they expanded their LFH model as a multi-modal delivery approach, to reach children with support from their Program Class Assistant.
Pre-recorded videos were used to explain concepts and along with this live classes were held through video conferencing apps to facilitate interaction between volunteer teachers and students.
Additionally, with a successful pilot in June 2020, they added another platform to Teach Through Television (TTT), via local television operators. This reached out to those students who could not access smartphones. The content was developed with the support of their volunteer teachers for Math and Science for grades 5-8.
They also introduced the Worksheet Model which reaches students who do not have access to smartphones and this was also used as an additional tool to reinforce the learning concepts that students saw on videos. Class Assistants have taken ownership to distribute the worksheets, assist the students with any queries, escalate the unresolved queries to the Volunteer Teachers, and share feedback accordingly with students.
At eVidyaloka, their delivery coordinators and implementation partners have played a huge role in being constantly in touch with each other, the local communities and parents to understand the on-ground reality. Month-on-month, they work together to help increase the intervention across villages to ensure that more children can learn and that rural India continues to learn. Currently, the Learn from Home Model has reached over 180 villages.
The multipurpose use of the gadgets and platforms – live classes, chats over apps, screenshot sharing student submissions, lessons through TV, and worksheets have created many opportunities for students to learn. This has also helped students understand and use technology which would help them in the long run. The role of the Class Assistant who ensures LFH classes run seamlessly has been critical. Committed volunteers who understand the limitations in time slots and constraints of learning with poor mobile connectivity have adapted their lesson plans to the situation, and are focused on ensuring that children continue to learn. Teachers share links, homework details with children through various communication channels for students who face network issues or miss a class. While challenges on internet connectivity and access to mobile phones continue, localized solutions to issues have helped in the uptake of the program.