Shiv Nadar Foundation today unveiled a mobile rural literacy initiative – Shiksha Kiran, a programme that will bring mobile classrooms to the doorsteps of students and adults across rural Uttar Pradesh. In the first phase, the programme will use specially designed vehicles to cover 36 villages across the districts of Dadri and Sitapur, reaching out children and adults who have lost access to education and literacy opportunities due to COVID-19 pandemic. Started in 2012, Shiksha Kiran is a part of the Shiksha initiative of Shiv Nadar Foundation.
Flagging-off the initiative, Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Chairperson, HCL Technologies and Trustee, Shiv Nadar Foundation said, “Shiv Nadar Foundation has several initiatives for transformative education. Shiksha is our youngest programme aimed at making primary school education engaging for young students using ICT. With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting education especially in rural India, where hosting virtual classes is also a challenge, we decided to take the school to the students. This is a unique initiative that will help ensure that young students do not miss out on their learning journey in these challenging times.”
Speaking on the occasion, Robin Sarkar, Project Director, Shiksha Initiative said, “Shiksha Initiative was started to improve learning and retention outcomes among primary school students by leveraging Information Communication Technologies (ICT). Over the last eight years, our efforts have shown visible results by significantly enhancing learning outcomes in 54,000 students in over 650 schools and training close to 1,500 teachers in using ICT to make the pedagogy more effective and engaging. I am confident that Shiksha Kiran would continue to make learning exciting and effective for students who join the programme.”
According to the Foundation, Shiksha Kiran learning units will work to bridge the education delivery gap that has arisen due to the pandemic and will cover key learning inputs aimed at primary school students. The programme will also deliver adult education and awareness programmes across the target villages. This becomes even more relevant because virtual learning in rural India, especially for children from disadvantaged communities is a challenge due to the lack of access to computers or smartphones.
Given India’s high rate of school drop-outs, seen primarily among girls and children from economically disadvantaged families, Shiksha Kiran initiative has also been designed to help primary school students retain their interest in learning and inspire them to continue their education. The programme seeks to achieve key learning outcomes including fine motor skills, sensory observation, critical thinking, analysing, counting concepts, English alphabet and more, during the 15-week programme. This curriculum has been designed in conformity with the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) Syllabus (Grade 1 to 3). Students will be taught in specially fabricated classrooms in open areas, under canopies via specialised teaching learning materials (TLM) such as audio-visuals, games and activities using Hindi language. Enabling the delivery of this are the Shiksha Kiran vehicles, equipped with mass teaching tools such as a large screen and loudspeakers, while lessons will be imparted by an instructor and an assistant to small batches ensuring social distancing and hygiene requirements, the Foundation has informed.
For adults, the programme is designed to also include life skills and information on innovative agricultural practices such as farming of medicinal plants, aloe-vera farming, animal husbandry, dairy business and more. Participants will also be regularly made aware of the latest government schemes and policies especially designed for rural India.
As part of the pilot programme, classes will be held for primary school students and adults in separate batches, with each batch attending two classes a week. Each mobile learning unit will cover four villages daily.