Pooja Chaudhuri Chaudhuri
The only fiction I enjoy is in books and movies.
Knowledge sharing has helped humanity survive and evolve into the intelligent and productive species we are today. Knowledge holds no value if not imparted to others.
The landscape of education in government schools of Andhra Pradesh is changing, thanks to state government and The Special Representative of North America that endeavours to bridge NRIs to the native land.
As a part of the APJanmabhoomi initiative – an exclusive online portal for the Telugu community in North America towards the socio-economic development of Andhra Pradesh in specific and India in general – the digitisation of 5000 government schools in Andhra Pradesh has been taken under consideration.
The initiative is first of its kind and was started on January 18, 2016 by the state government of Andhra Pradesh under the leadership of Jayaram Komati. Most of the projects under the initiative are not more than 6 months old and are set to progress in phases. In October 2016, assistance from NRIs led to the first big milestone of this initiative – digital classrooms were launched in 302 schools under the leadership of Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and the supervision of the Special Representative of Andhra Pradesh Government for North America, Jayaram Komati.
The Logical Indian spoke to Mr Pradeep Karuturi, the personal assistant to Mr Jayram Komati, who provided us with details on the state initiative.
“There is a huge Telegu diaspora residing in North America – over a million people who want to do something for their motherland. When they directly approach the sarpanch, a proper response is not received as they are seen interfering with village affairs. The Andhra Pradesh government realised the crisis in the state and started this initiative to give a platform to NRIs to support education in India”, said Mr Karuturi.
The initiative seeks to make learning fun for children. As humans are visual creatures, they comprehend better through their eyes. For this effort, children are taught fundamental concepts using visual tools, helping them imbibe the knowledge more effectively.
MCPS R.P. PETA Government School in Visakhapatnam is one of the success stories that has benefitted from the first wave of digitalization in Andhra Pradesh. The headmaster of the school, G.V. Ramana, is greatly pleased with the progress of the campaign that has completely transformed his school. Noting the key changes subsequent to the installation of the digital classroom, he explained how the digital equipment has captured the fascination of all students who come to school, now more eager than ever to learn using the new methods. The visual lessons containing songs, graphics, and animations have gained higher interest levels of the students, motivating them to voluntarily ask for more classes.
Furthermore, the faculty has noted a greater retention capacity and improved creative thinking made possible by these tools, but what satisfies them the most is the increased attendance rates at schools. Students have shown remarkable improvement within a short period and are even more disciplined at their lessons, boosting the student-teacher engagement significantly.
How does the project train teachers in digital education?
The project gets its manpower through a team of interns from various colleges and different fields across the nation. The only thing connecting all the interns is their passion for helping schools understand technology. They go through a 3-month internship program under the Special Representative for North America Office.
By February 2017, the communications internship programme had reached out to 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh. Interns visited about 100 schools each week, impacting and giving hands-on training to some 200 government school teachers. They were given practice lessons with the use of technology in an environment they were comfortable with and assigned tasks like making their own presentations. “The teachers were pro-active in learning and sent us the assignments given to them through mail and Whatsapp”, describes a communication intern about her experience. The faculty training modules include not just fundamental computer knowledge, but also instructions on digital learning tools like APEKX, GeoGebra, etc.
What role do the NRIs play?
Success in digital education, including the M.C.P.S. R.P. Peta Digital classroom, would not have been possible without the contribution of the NRIs who funded and supported its installation. Each digital classroom costs Rs 1,50,000, where the government provides 70% (Rs 1,05,000) and the rest 30% (Rs 45,000) is contributed by donors. While maximum participation is from Telugu NRIs, there are representatives from NRIs of other states as well.
The NRIs receive regular feedback on the progress of the project and the initiative is also attempting to connect them virtually to the schools where they can interact with the children and see the development of the schools.
The project is constantly evolving where topics of general knowledge are encouraged more, as opposed to lessons in text books. The continued support of NRIs has helped the schools reach where they are, and it continues to do so.
Digital classrooms have brought a new dimension to conventional learning and have improved classroom interaction and interest of both the students and the teachers.
Through concerted efforts of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu Garu, and the Special Representative for North America, Mr. Jayaram Komati, the state has achieved this breakthrough in the public education system.
APJanmabhoomi has received funds for over 1000 schools so far and still needs help for 5000 schools to get digitalized. Many NRIs have been contributing to give the children of our country a bright future. If each one of the 8 crore NRIs in the world get together to further assist the nation toward literacy, the Indian subcontinent will be one step closer towards 100% literacy.
* You can play a part too in this endeavour by applying to APJanmabhumi’s pan India internship program. Send your updated CV to [email protected]. *
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