E-Teaching-Aid for Vernacular Schools in Maharashtra, India

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    Registration Name: eMaharashtra 2012
    Project Category: digitalLEARNING (Private Sector Initiative) :: Best Multimedia Content for K12 Education
    Project Name: E-Teaching-Aid for Vernacular Schools in Maharashtra, India

    Details of Applicant
    Name: Manisha Mohan
    Address: Leela Business Park, Andheri Kurla Road, Andheri (East) Mumbai, Maharashtra.
    City: Mumbai
    State: Maharashtra
    Country: India
    Zip Code: 400 059

    Details of  Project/Implementing Agency:

    Name of Organisation: Tata Interactive Systems
    Address: CMC House, C-18, Bandra-Kurla Complex, Bandra (East)
    City: Mumbai
    State: Maharashtra
    Country: India
    Zip Code:  400 051
    Name of the Head of Organisation: Sanjaya Sharma
    Website: www.tatainteractive.com

    Brief description of the programme/project/initiative :

    “Bombay Community Public Trust (BCPT), NGO Muktangan and Tata Interactive Systems (TIS) have collaborated to provide high-quality standardized interactive English teaching aids based on the government prescribed curriculum to help children in state-run and private vernacular medium schools overcome the English barrier and become employable. DVDs are being created for teaching students from Std. 1 – 4. The DVDs are closely aligned with the government prescribed curriculum and present the concepts from textbooks in an interesting manner. Although there is significant effort involved in development and distribution, these DVDs are being distributed free in municipal and village schools. They provide teachers a powerful teaching-aid and enable children to learn easily and in a fun way. Each of the 3 members of the collaboration has a specific role to play in this initiative: * Tata Interactive Systems (TIS) is responsible for creating the instructional approach, graphics, integrating and testing the DVDs. * Muktangan is responsible for guiding the teaching methodology used in DVDs and providing a platform for user-testing, * Bombay Community Public Trust (BCPT) is responsible for fund raising, administration & accounting and project coordination. (Apart from these three, Tech Mahindra Foundation has also provided financial assistance, and NGO Learning Space Foundation is helping in dissemination of the DVDs.)”

    Why was the project started?
    “In order for India to truly hold its own on the global stage, there is a need to improve the quality of education imparted to children from under-privileged backgrounds, and also to improve their ability to communicate in English. India’s challenge is not just unemployment – but also un-employability of a vast majority of the people of our country who are unable to communicate proficiently in English. 80% of Indian students attend state-run schools where English is not the primary medium of education. A larger supply of confident, English-speaking work-force would improve income levels and buying power for faster economic growth of our country. India’s problems on the route to employability are threefold: • Students are not confident in English • Teachers are not adequately trained to teach English • Lack of good quality, Indianized, curriculum linked, content that enables learning of English The project aims to build English communication skills in under privileged children and overcome inadequacies of English teachers in non-English medium schools. This is achieved by prompting existing teachers to improve their skills and imparting standardized language skills to students through creative electronic learning content with an engaging instructional design approach. We identified that a strong foundation in English is best built at an early stage – therefore the defined target age-group is Std.1 – 4.”

    “1. Build good communication and writing skills in English for children of underprivileged backgrounds with a view to increase employability in future 2. To overcome non-availability of qualified English Teachers in vernacular-medium schools, by prompting the existing Teachers to improve their skills, and simultaneously imparting standardized diction / knowledge to the students 3. To disseminate these DVDs/CDs as widely as possible, at little or no cost — to benefit the economically deprived students who cannot afford special coaching classes.”

    Target Group:
    School children and Teachers at free, state-run and low-cost privately-run vernacular schools, balwadis, and village schools in Maharashtra from Std. 1-4.

    Geographical reach:
    Maharashtra — the DVDs are custom-made specifically to teach the prescribed Maharashtra Govt. curriculum

    Date from which the project became operational :

    Is the Project still operational :

    10 points that make the programme/project innovative:

    “1. The DVDs are closely aligned to the textbooks to make the approach easier for the teachers to follow and adopt. Most other similar programs have not been so successful because they follow methodologies that are not aligned to the curriculum.
    2. DVDs were designed to run on the most basic TV set and VCRs in a school. Most of the schools do not have computers, but have TV sets which have been provided (and can be provided) at low cost by Municipal Corporations / Donors.
    3. Individualized Teacher Training is conducted to orient the teachers before rollout in schools.
    4. Unique Instructional design Approach: The best way to teach language is to immerse the learner in the different uses of the language, and make them forget they are learning. Songs, stories and rhymes are included so children can enjoy, listen, repeat and learn. Everyday communication contexts were created for children to repeat after the program, enact situations and learn often used constructions. Students are enabled to recognize letters and some simple words by sight.
    5. The voice-over and dialogue has an easy to understand Indian accent – which differentiates it from commonly available international CD ROMs – where children struggle to understand the accent.
    6. Teacher’s Guide in Marathi and English was created to help teachers use these DVDs. These guides show which activity/ teach item in the DVD maps to which page in the book. It also explains how the teacher can conduct activities based on the teach screens in the DVD.
    7. Visual approach was designed keeping the target audience in mind, with animation, action, bright colors, children as primary characters, and Indian settings which the children are familiar with. The characters represent the different religious groups in India, gender balance is maintained and the entire approach is inclusive. Repeatability of the same characters help children relate better to them as they grow up, as well as help to control the cost of production.
    8. Although the context, characters and settings are all Indian – the teaching methodologies used have international research basis and standards. For example phonics is covered in great detail in the DVDs.
    9. The navigation interface is bold and very easy to access by teachers who are not proficient with interactive programs. Navigation possible with TV remote makes it easy for the teacher to move around freely and not be tied to a computer keyboard.
    10. This project would not have been successful without the unique partnership between BCPT, Muktangan and TIS, Tech Mahindra as well as NGOs such as Learning Space Foundation for dissemination.”

    List  5 achievements of the programme/project:

    “1.The program has been rolled in over 75 Schools in Mumbai and rural Maharashtra, and has received an excellent response from teachers and children.
    2. This form of intervention supports the ability of vernacular schools to continue to provide good education in all subjects — with the added advantage of making their students proficient also in English.
    3. Bolstering and improving the image of vernacular schools through this program usage has helped attract more parents to bring their children to these schools.
    4. The program has found success with handicapped children and children with disabilities.
    5. The poorest of poor children who can only afford to go to free vernacular schools would get as good a quality of education to communicate in English as those going to privileged schools — empowering them by opening up better job opportunities, helping the clever ones to pursue higher studies, and giving them greater self-confidence (in short : helping them to rise out of the vicious cycle of poverty).”

    List 5 key challenges faced while implementing the programme/project/initiative and how they were overcome?

    “1.Some schools faced pro-longed power cuts. This posed a big challenge in implementing this program. Inverters for uninterrupted power supply are provided where necessary.
    2. Most schools, especially vernacular medium schools did not have necessary infrastructure like TV sets and DVD player to run the DVDs. Schools were equipped with TV sets and DVD players by us.
    3. Teachers lacked basic skills to use DVDs and run the program. Teachers were given basic training in the use of the DVDs.
    4. Projects of this magnitude and impact potential are possible only with strong financial backing. Initially fund raising was a big challenge but eventually with assistance of Tech Mahindra Foundation and Bombay Community Public Trust the project is being successfully implemented.
    5. Awareness (amongst School managements / Teachers and the Parents) needs to be created about the availability of this powerful new teaching methodology. Awareness sessions and Teacher Inductions have been conducted, as well as tie –ups with NGOs such as Learning Space Foundation to widen the reach.”

    List 5 points on how  the programme can serve as a model that can be replicated or adapted by others?

    “1. This initiative is run on a no profit basis, voluntarily by a group of individuals committed to a cause. It proves that like-minded professionals working together can achieve wonders for the underprivileged.
    2. The instructional methodology is already proven, teacher training manuals and the DVDs ready. Willing partners could join our initiative and help in dissemination of the content in more schools.
    3. Based on our research we identified that curriculum linked content is easier for teachers to adapt to, as well as have identified successful learning models for primary school children. Our research and successful learning models could be replicated in other States and other boards.
    4. Schools and children themselves are the best champions and help in creating awareness of the success of this model. Our hope is that our efforts in dissemination of the DVDs will be supported through word of mouth.
    5. Through this initiative we have built confidence in many municipal schools that the fear of teaching and of learning an alien and difficult language (English) can be overcome. Also that Sarva Shikshan Abhyan’s objective can also be fulfilled : of making quality education available widely and cheaply to children from the poor strata of society. Hopefully this will encourage more people to join the cause.”

    List 5 points to elaborate on the scalability of the programme/project/initiative

    “1. The design of these DVDs is such that it can be easily adapted to other boards, as well as scaled to higher classes.
    2. Acceptance and support from the Sarva Shiksha Abhyan, and the Municipal authorities will definitely help us move this initiative to a wider scale.
    3. We are working towards creating awareness amongst parents about the change — whereby children will benefit by being in a vernacular school.
    4. Our complimentary partnerships form one of the key strength of our initiatives. Our team is also actively seeking more partners and donors to support the making of further DVDs and their dissemination.
    5. Since the DVDs run on TVs and DVD sets, it is allows for a wider usage even among teachers who are not proficient with computers. We are seeking the support of TV / DVD manufacturers to give good quality equipment at lower price to help us reach more schools.”

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