It’s 9 am, and there’s still an hour to go before Pera Primary School in Navsari, Gujarat, comes alive with the squeals and shouts of students. Thirteen-year-old Jeetu Hariram and a few of his classmates have reached school early. They are huddled around a smartphone that Jeetu has borrowed from his father. As we approach them, we feel the excitement in the air and wonder what’s behind the buzz. Cricket? Football? Neither…it’s a quiz! The children are captivated by an interactive quiz on an EdTech app and seem collectively thrilled or dismayed when they get the answers right or wrong.
Unlike their urban counterparts, these students (primarily belonging to low-income households) have not grown up surrounded by smartphones, computers, video games, and other gadgets. But then, the pandemic-induced lockdowns accelerated digitisation and device penetration in rural India. A 2022 Neilsen Bharat 2.0 study found that when compared to 2019 data, rural users’ internet usage growth stood at 45% in comparison to urban users’ growth of 28%. Ever since there has been a visible shift in the adoption of EdTech solutions, and Bharat EdTech Initiative’s field assessment has also shown a positive impact on children’s learning outcomes.
It is also heartening to see the adults in these communities champion first-time digital learners in their own way, brushing aside obstacles and reservations. For instance, twelve-year-old Dhriti Harpati, a seventh-grade student, is looking forward to another exciting day at Chandra Vasan Primary School. When her school reopened after the COVID-19 lockdown, she found it difficult to comprehend topics, leading to learning loss. But, in the last year, thanks to extensive remedial learning programmes, Dhriti has caught up to grade-appropriate benchmarks. With the support of her parents, Dhriti is now learning on BEI’s partner, ConveGenius’ EdTech platform, and supplementing her school education. Shy and unassuming, her pride is visible when she tells us how good her scores are in Sanskrit, and Hindi, as well as her favourite subject, Math.
Both Jeetu and Dhriti are learning online through the SwiftChat platform (by ConveGenius). It is a conversational AI platform that provides educational and fun quizzes, videos, stories, dictionaries as well as news to students via chatbots in multiple regional languages. Additionally, the curriculum-aligned content on the platform ensures that students meet all state-based learning requirements.
By accessing these resources for learning, hundreds of students in Navsari, Gujarat, like Jeetu and Dhriti are breaking the barriers of going beyond only classroom-based learning. As first-time digital learners, they are redefining how education has been perceived in these communities.
Interactive AI interfaces, gamification, video stories and more, aimed at generating curiosity among students to learn, are all new for this audience. Nevertheless, the curriculum-aligned content on the platform, which ensures that students meet all state-based learning requirements, has been consumed with much ardour.
At the heart of all this, is the enablement of learning anytime, anywhere. Getting students to feel motivated to learn at their own pace and fall in love with learning will set the tone for not just their future, but also their future generations. As William Wordsworth once said, ‘The child is the father to the man’.
It takes a village to raise a child. Navsari has truly demonstrated that. Here, we’ve seen the power of collaboration in helping enable EdTech access. Now, students and parents alike discover the joys of unlocking agency in their learning journeys – one day at a time.
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