“I want to build a positive relationship with my students to ensure they can trust and confide in me”

With Bharat EdTech Initiative’s intervention, 55-year-old Pushpa Kalidas Rathod, principal of Chandra Vasan Primary School, is helping improve student learning through digital education in Navsari, Gujarat. She gets candid about her journey and lessons from her two decades of experience.

As a school principal working in a government school in a low-income district in India, I know how challenging it is to provide quality education to children. From getting students interested in studying to providing local support, one needs to put in more than what is required to enable effective learning. However, I believe that with the right environment and resources, every student can achieve their potential. And EdTech has the power to transform the student learning journey! 

When I started out 32 years ago, the scenario was different. The majority of the parents used to believe that school is where the best learning takes place, often supplemented by tuition classes. They hadn’t heard of digital education and its benefits to support school learning. Children were also largely relegated to textbook learning. From the time digital technologies started reaching us, I felt a strong desire to leverage these and involve my students too, and see their excitement and interest in the process. 

Through Bharat EdTech Initiative’s (BEI) intervention, my aim of influencing mindset change towards EdTech usage has become easier. Through collaboration with community, assessment, and EdTech partners, they help create a conducive environment that supports at-home student learning. This means engaging with parents, teachers and volunteers to make a child feel comfortable during studying. 

Dedicated Learning Routines 

Students in my school study through BEI’s EdTech partner ConveGenius’s app, SwiftChat. The content is grade-appropriate, engaging, and well-matched to their learning needs. They take weekly assessments on the app which help them with the revision of the school curriculum. 

As for the challenge of device access, I approach parents and convince them to let their children use their smartphones. While there is a long way to go, my biggest joy comes from seeing parents realise that educational technology is something they can trust! They now look forward to recharging the phone to enable uninterrupted learning for the child, and that is why there is 100% student attendance on the weekly assessment on the app. 

What I’ve learnt in the last few months is that it is crucial for EdTech apps to also engage adults. I’ve seen teachers in my school study online to teach the concepts in a better way. And, parents also assess the effectiveness of student learning outcomes when the details of the progress are shared in a meaningful way. EdTech has undoubtedly opened up a world of possibilities for them. 

Fostering Strong Adult-Student Relationships

I often prioritise developing individual connections with my students, as these interactions offer a glimpse into their life at home and their impact. This helps me understand their personality, interests, and aptitude and I’m able to implement interventions accordingly. 

To elevate the quality of learning, students must be supported from the early stages, academically and emotionally. I want them to feel comfortable sharing their concerns with me. By understanding their strengths and weaknesses, I can intervene and act as a bridge between them and their parents or even teachers. Let me tell you about Priyanshi Harpati, a class 7th student from the school, who finds a few minutes every day to come say hello to me at school. We speak about her likes and dislikes, her routine at home, and what she aspires to become. With this equation, Priyanshi feels more confident to trust her teachers and develops a greater interest in learning. 

As the principal of this school, I have seen the students’ learning potential being unleashed through EdTech. Besides being more curious and intuitive, they have developed a sense of self-learning and collaboration among peers. Despite limited resources, access to technology has expanded opportunities for learners beyond the confines of the physical classroom. Now it is up to all of us – educators, government and policymakers alike – to work together to ensure that EdTech is used in a way that enhances the overall quality of education for children.

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