Education is the foundation of sustained growth of a country. But rural India has dingy and dilapidated schools without access to electricity and sanitation, and an acute paucity of teachers.
According to experts, the last and only resort to such a situation is virtual learning. Importantly, virtual learning is making waves in the rural parts of this country, compared to urban areas. The reasons: lack of educational infrastructure, teachers and quality syllabus.
In this regard, a joint venture between Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DHFL) and ConnectEd Technologies is lending a helping hand to Palghar taluka, located about 110 km north of Mumbai, off the Mumbai-Ahmedabad rail/road corridor. Through this program, ConnectEd Technologies will double its tally of ‘smart classrooms’ in Palghar district to 120, benefiting over 25,000 children across government, aided and tribal welfare schools.
For such initiatives, Council’s lead partner Microsoft has also contributed immensely in the form of technology. Its solar-powered learning lab — ‘School in the Cloud’ — is making learning fun in this small village, called Korakati, located among mangrove swamps.
Through School in the Cloud, children can interact with online ‘grannies’ to engage in a wide range of informal activities; ‘grannies’ are a group of retired teachers (mostly from the UK) who are available over Skype to help mentor and guide the children as they explore information.
According to Microsoft, this project not only improves children’s reading comprehension and search skills, it also enables them to draw rational and logical conclusions from various situations.
How it works
The Smart Classroom System is quite advanced and robust, as the company has made this device so simple to operate that it starts at the touch of a single button, and can be used entirely through a simple remote control, requiring no special expertise or elaborate training.
The system is a standalone, solar-powered, dust-and-damage resistant device that allows tailor-made multimedia educational content to be projected into rural classrooms. This system is a robust teacher-aid product that thoroughly supports educators as they teach various subjects, chapters and concepts. The result: standardisation and improvement in the quality of education, and improved academic performance.
The Smart Classroom System eliminates the need for a computer, UPS/generator or any other hardware, thereby becoming an integrated solution that’s tailored to function flawlessly in demanding rural settings. It also improves the learning environment within classrooms.
The Palghar region has about 570 schools comprising government, government-aided and private institutions. While there’s a dense network of primary schools which caters to the educational needs of children up to the 4th Standard, the number of mid-schools and high-schools are few in comparison.
As a result, these schools see skewed teacher-to-student ratios, making it difficult for educators to deliver quality education through conventional means.
Here, ConnectEd began working on its maiden rural education project in Palghar during December 2014. Within one year, it was able to move local authorities, school managements, teachers and socially-responsible corporates to integrate its ‘Smart Classroom System’ to augment teaching processes in some of the most densely populated schools in the taluka. In the meantime, the company’s efforts have paid off, and the initiative is being supported by Maharashtra’s Education Ministry. At present, the company is now working to deploy the ‘Smart Classroom System’ in schools across Maharashtra.
Each classroom is installed with ConnectEd’s solar-powered ‘smart classroom’ system, allowing teachers to integrate tailor-made educational content into conventional teaching practices, thereby improving the learning environment and academic performance. Unlike conventional technology solutions installed in urban schools, these solutions are designed specifically for rural usage. The course content adheres to the State Board curriculum, yet optimised for rural students.