“Technology will not replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational” - George Couros
The 21st Century has been like no other, characterized by groundbreaking innovations and significant scientific progress and increasing presence in a digital world. Technology has gained a significant position in our lives seeping into most sectors. Digitization has made our lives simpler, efficient and purposeful. That means no pondering over repetitive tasks when digitally fed algorithms can execute the same with greater dexterity, with minimal human intervention. The same notion of the Industrial Age can be applied now when most of our world is shifting online. The long queues at billing the groceries, paying utility bills to even navigating your friend’s house have been substituted on smartphones by E-Wallet, E-Commerce and Maps, all at the convenience of a tap.
IMMOBILISED EDUCATION SYSTEM
With respect to the needs of the time, our education system was designed to produce factory workers, not independent critical problem solvers. Rote learning owes much of its purpose here. The problem is its lack of touch with the demands of the present job market, when automation has taken over market and new jobs have sprung into existence.
Through imposing plain paragraphs of theoretical knowledge upon students and testing them solely based on their retention and reproduction of the same, the gap between their learnt skills and employability is widening rapidly. At the same time, the syllabus in the textbooks is not being updated regularly, therefore minimizing the relevance of learnt knowledge. Even though the facts remain the same, it is their timely relevance which matters. It is imperative that creativity will not flourish, if not appealed to the curiosity of the students, therefore the underutilization of our youth’s potential.
According to a representative survey conducted in government primary schools, an average of 25% of the teachers are absent on a typical day. The reason for absence also includes official duty, other than truancy. This affects the productivity of the students in the school hours. And to make the matters worse, a UNESCO Report hinted an average pupil teacher ratio of 33:1. These figures are worse in rural government schools, from the secondary level onwards. About 19% of teaching positions lie vacant in India, 69% of which emanates from rural areas. Many of those government schools are run by a single teacher.
However, these figures are on an improving trend. But the question remains - How can India utilize its young manpower to its potential, with increasing digital relevance in background? The answer is School Digitization.
School Digitization is an ongoing process of incorporating elements of the education system into the digital space, through its application in improving knowledge dissemination. This would prepare our students towards engaging in a technologically advancing world, especially with growing relevance in digitization. Its focus is multidisciplinary and tech savvy. It includes the use of digital platforms to collaborate, disseminate and utilize educational tools. They include the utilization of smartboards, computers, tablets, classroom dashboards, etc. The National Education Policy, 2020 has also set digitization in education as one of its primary objectives. With CISCO projecting boom in India’s Internet Penetration to about 60%, the stage is being set.
School digitization presents an array for advantages for all the participants of the educational establishment. Cloud Computing would save up rooms of stacked up documentation. With digitization of administrative records to heaps of assignment sheets, maintaining and retaining data would be secure and efficient. Digitalization of the syllabus material would also enable convenient content access for the students. They can revisit the contents and learn at their suited pace. Teachers would also be able to track learning progress of their students, which would enable them to tailor teaching to student’s individual needs. Creative appeals of education through the meticulous use of graphics would make the concepts more understandable and applicable for the students. Students will also be prepared for their future careers, in a background where automation would create more opportunities.
It is unfortunate that computer science students in government colleges learn the subject ‘without computers’, even in the Silicon Valley of India. Right To Live is engaged in a campaign for setting up computer laboratories with the required resources, including computers, tabs, UPSs, and well-equipped infrastructure to government schools and colleges
To aid better grasp of academic subjects, we would place 43” LED TVs in computer labs to visually display and explain the material.
In collaboration with BYJUS, the “Education For All” program is ensuring the provision of Android Tablet pre-loaded with e-learning content, in English and the local language, to the students.
There have been improvement strides. It is our duty to ensure that the future global citizens are adequately prepared for a future, continuing our pursued advancements and progress to create an inclusive and a better world. Right to Live requests for your participation in this cause.
The world we know today is growing robust with technological advancements and spreading efficiency, quality and minimal time. Ground-breaking innovations and add-ons to the existing paradigms are making our lives more convenient and comfortable.
Application-related skills is what matters in carving up a niche in the employment market, which unfortunately faces an immense dearth in our education system.
With rapid changes in the demand for skills, Vocational Training has grabbed a significant foothold in terms of its relevance, affordability, imparted expertise through hands-on technical training, and edge over an increasingly competitive job market subsumed rapidly by automation.
What Is Vocational Training?
Vocational Education is the process of institutionalized training in a specialized skill to gain relevant practical expertise in a particular craft or technical domain. Their focus lies on gaining specific hands-on practical experience channelled towards the domain, thus enhancing their knowledge depth and prerequisite experience in the field, while widening their exposure towards the industry environment.
Students can opt for a Certification, Diploma, Apprenticeship or Associate Degree, while these courses have been reserved for higher secondary and the higher education levels. Vocational Education is available in a wide disciplinary range, spanning from Mechanics, Carpentry and Craftmanship to even Information Technology, Tourism Management, Paralegal and many more available domains.
Finding a job has become even harder. Along with an increasing population of contenders for the same vacancies, the quality of the traditional education system did not improve commensurately with the demands of the job market, therefore rendering their students unrequired for the job vacancies. According to the India Skills Report published in 2022, only 45.2% of graduates have been found to be employable in India.
Our Education System has favoured theoretical knowledge over its practical application by placing emphasis on rote memorization and failing to teach their students to apply the same knowledge in the real world. Therefore, it is imperative that possessing relevant and employable skills is the game maker in the market.
Education has become costlier and unsustainable for financially vulnerable families. According to a survey by NSSO, about 70% of the rural Indians are not able to complete their 10th class education, while 40% remains for the urban areas. The average expenditures incurred by the education of a college student stands at 5240/- per month, in the rural areas, with urban areas spending 3 times more. Therefore in such circumstances, Vocational Education has turned out a better alternative as its courses are cheaper and more affordable to those economically disadvantaged.
An Increasingly Digital Age Requires..
We are moving towards an age driven by the functioning of self-fulfilling algorithms on screen, instead of manual performance. One of the sectors benefitting the most from this has been the Information Technology, especially involving Computer Science due to its abundance in availability of job openings and package options. The pandemic has quite well proved the job immunity for the Information Technology sector, in a period ravaging most of the job industries and markets as the world moved to online. Automation of industries have again destroyed jobs, but the careers facilitating creation of automation will not run out of demand very soon. At the same time, the pay scale will also remain to a fulfilling extent, thus a good discipline option for pursuing vocational education.
Right To Live is willing to conduct vocational training courses for graduated students in Sullia. Here, about 4000 students graduate each year in Sullia, Dakshina Kannada whereas the reality of their employability conveys a different story.
In response to this, Right to Live, in collaboration with Sneha Shikshana Samsthe Initiative, has launched a Vocational Training Program to teach the youth to use computers and improve their employability. Right To Live plans to assign a computer instructor for the same, while Sneha Shikshana Samsthe will be responsible for overseeing regular operations. Right To Live aims to educate registered children from Below-Poverty-Line, who will be trained on basic computers, DTP, Tally and other courses which will facilitate employment for them in their vicinity, with decent salaries ranging at INR 10,000-15,000, therefore facilitating them to live a sustainable and satisfying lifestyle.
Education and access to a decent standard of living is the right of every child in this country. It is our duty as responsible citizens of the country to enable the future citizens of our nature with relevant skills, which serves our national interests. Right to Live urges one and all to come forward and contribute as we try to make a difference by upskilling our future generation.
Who is a mentor?
"Getting a mentor is a shortcut to success"
A mentor is someone who provides guidance based on your specific goals and context. They have had similar struggles in their journey in order to achieve their goals. A mentor tries to help one along the journey by telling him the easiest way to do certain things and avoiding some major mistakes. The concerned person will still make mistakes, will still do many things in a far from perfect manner, however the mistakes will be different.
Mentors want to ease the mentee’s struggles by providing support, empathizing and listening to them when needed. Mentors don’t always have the answers, but they generally try to connect them to people who are more knowledgeable than them on those specific issues. If a mentee's struggles are very unique or if they don’t know anyone in their network who can guide them effectively, they help the concerned people find the answers based on their experiences.
Mentors do not have the perfect answers for solutions. Mentoring is not a formulaic coaching with a checklist of activities that all mentees must complete. More often, it is a discussion, exchange of ideas, experimentation. Every mentee has a unique personality and background so what works for one person will not work for others. As such, mentoring is usually a one-on-one process and takes a sustained commitment from both parties involved.
Mentoring is rewarding for both mentors and mentees. Mentees get to benefit from the experience and perspectives of someone with experience while mentors get the joy of giving back to the society. In a strong mentoring relationship, mentors and mentees can learn a lot from each other.
How does a mentor help?
How to find the right mentor?
Finding the right mentor is a matter of experimentation. There is no fixed set of guidelines which can help you find the perfect mentor, just as there is no “perfect” mentor.
A suitable mentor is generally someone in the same field as the mentee and has some similar experiences as the concerned individual. It is generally counterproductive and almost impossible to find someone with the same path as the mentee. An enriching mentor-mentee relationship is one where both mentor and mentee can learn from each other based on their different perspectives and life experiences.
Talking to certain people in the same field as the person in question (mentee) is the first step to finding the right mentor. One would have more meaningful conversations with those people eventually. Continued short conversations with those people for next few months would help in the long run for the involved individuals to understand each other better . People who are willing to make the commitment for mentoring would keep responding and providing valuable insights at each and every step of the process. Mentoring should not be a one-way street but a mutual relationship. Sharing thoughts on what the mentor is working on and offering to help them with anything they need help with will ensure a cordial relationship between the two.
Mentoring is generally more fruitful in a long-term commitment from both parties. So keep checking in with mentors on a regular cadence and discuss how you are doing on implementing the advice they have offered. It is an open exchange of ideas so if something is not working out for you, don’t hesitate to share it with your mentor. You can have different mentors for different goals. One mentor could provide better guidance on hard skills while a senior mentor could provide very useful perspectives on leadership and soft skills.
RTL's Mentoring Program
RTL provides one-on-one mentorship for students in 9th-12th standard by partnering with corporate organisations. These volunteers connect with school students for a couple of hours every week and motivate them to perform well in their academics. They also guide them on various issues such as time management, peer pressure, dealing with exam anxiety.
RTL partnered with IBM to provide one-on-one mentorship for students. More than 50 students are benefitting from this personal guidance offered and are working towards achieving their dreams. The one-on-one sessions are highly beneficial for the students. They have a mentor outside their immediate environment with whom they can freely discuss any issues or hurdles that they are facing.
Regular sessions with mentors, motivates the students and helps them stay on track with their goals. The students can implement suggestions provided by mentors and report back on the feasibility of the ideas.
Similarly, RTL also provides public speaking mentoring sessions for students. This provides students a safe space to practice their English speaking skills and gain confidence without worrying about the negative impact.
The one-on-one mentoring initiatives by RTL are helping many students in government schools acquire relevant skills and perform better academically.
We often remember the days, when the internet was not easily available at school or at home and the resultant struggle we would go through to work on assigned projects or to learn about something new. It is hard to imagine a life without a fast-paced internet connection today. The significance of active internet connection is felt even more, the moment there is a power cut at home and the back-up diesel generators of our societies take a minute or two to kick-in. The horror of being disconnected from an online meeting or our kids dropping out of their classes and missing a few crucial minutes of their lesson, has pushed us to take a step further and buy special purpose UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) for our internet routers. The Internet has become the undisputed source of reliable instant information. Most of urban India, in contemporary times, is dependent on the internet, right from booking cabs to ordering groceries. Education system has been completely reformed by the internet, with several online-class delivery platforms and coding applications now available for students and working professionals to hone their skills. The Internet has now become a necessity and without it we find it difficult to function.
In the same day and age, a primary school teacher in Mullur, a remote village in Karnataka, had to build a treehouse classroom, in search for better wireless internet connection. According to a report prepared by the Ministry of Education, only 22% of the schools in India had internet connection in the year 2019-2020. The figure drops to 11.58% for government run schools across the country. Since it is an approximate figure, one can only imagine the poorconnectivity in some of the schools in the remote villages of our country. Mobile internet connection which seemed like an answer for making fast reliable internet available for everyone has failed to bring in the desired effect.
While we may still be far away from making a broadband connection available to every rural household, the government through its many programs such as National Broadband Mission and National Optical Fiber Network, is improving the availability of broadband internet in India. However, the rural broadband penetration of 29.1% is much lower than the national average of 51.1%. The challenges remain in the last mile connectivity and bringing these connections to individual rural schools. Considering the one-time setup cost and the monthly recurring cost for usage, broadband internet continues to be rather expensive for most of the rural households.
The Internet is a great leveler when it comes to education. It democratizes the availability of information. The tutorial of a subject or topic which only kids living in urban areas with state-of-the-art coaching infrastructure and teachers had access to, now can be easily accessed on the internet, from the most remote areas of the country. Hence, it is imperative to ensure that something as basic as a fast and reliable internet connection is available for all school going kids in the rural parts of the country.
A fast and reliable wireless internet connection in a rural school has the potential of connecting many school-going children to the internet, thereby ensuring a proper accessibility of resources and opportunities. It would provide students access to several freely available education platforms and would also give them an exposure towards different career possibilities. A common internet connection at a rural school would also bring together kids from different households at a common place which would also enable sharing of knowledge and development of community. The graphical nature of content delivery would attract more students from across communities and would help bridge the educational gap between rural and urban students.
RTL’s Broadband @ Rural Schools Program
If you want to read more about the initiative and want to improve the educational opportunities for the kids in the rural parts of the country, by donating to the cause, you can do so by using the link provided below.
Let us come together and ensure that something as basic as the availability of the internet doesn’t become a hindrance in the development of a child.
Education is a foundation that helps people build bigger and better things for themselves and for others. It is the key to personal growth and development.The importance of education cannot be denied. It encourages the skill of critical thought, knowledge, and life-skills. However, the problem arises when a section of society does not have access to this foundation.
The Higher Education system in India is the second largest in the world, yet just 27.1% of the eligible age group enroll in higher education in India. Higher education is a catalyst, it helps to create our changemakers and shape the future of our country. Every student deserves the opportunity to access higher education.
Middle class and upper-class families have the resources and knowledge to support their children and encourage them to pursue studies even after school. However, in the disadvantaged families, this ‘privilege’ is not always available to the children involved. In fact, even the students who qualify for higher studies cannot excel to their fullest potential due to their poverty and lack of sustenance. This system requires an intervention to support these students so that they get the opportunity to fulfil their goals.
The Impact of Privilege
Privilege can be defined as a special entitlement, or advantage given to one person over another. In this case, the underprivileged suffer from a lack of equal access
A Digital Divide
One of the most obvious gaps between the haves and the have-nots in this day and age, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, is the digital divide. Due to the pandemic, schools and colleges had to bring about a digitization of education. This meant that those who did not have access to devices like phones, laptops, or television, did not have access to their education. In India, only 47% of households have internet for more than 12 hours a day and more than 36% of schools do not have electricity. This, again, brings back the disadvantages that poorer families had to face. Students who have the resources could shift to e-learning almost seamlessly, while those without the resources faced a lot of problems, both due to lack of access to devices, and because there was nobody to guide them through learning how to use the devices.
Are Scholarships the Way?
Scholarships are designed to provide students with financial support that they would not otherwise have. It is meant to help students pursue their education, and more often than not, is dependent on academic achievement and excellence. Those who excel may not always have the resources to continue their education, and the scholarships provided help to bridge that gap. In economic
The Role of Right to Live
Right to Live aims to close this gap faced by underprivileged students by providing them with scholarships to support their higher education. Bright students from poorfinancial background deserve to pursue their dreams, and Right to Live is determined to make that happen. The ‘Education Scholarship’ by Right to Live was established in 2012 and is awarded to the best and brightest after rigorous verification. In 2019-20, 22 students received this scholarship, and this paves the way toward supporting more and more students as the years go on. The aim right now is for further expansion, to be able to award this scholarship to 50-100 eligible students. Education is the turning point in many people’s lives, and every child should have the chance to access it.
Government schools are a necessity as it is the sole educational lifeline for 60% of India’s child population. Does every child have the opportunity to opt for private schools if Government-run schools are imparting substandard quality education? Unfortunately, the answer would be a big ‘NO’.
The importance of education in national development needs more understanding. The difficulties that teachers face to cope up with the drastically changing curriculum, the emergence of digital education, student-teacher ratio are all threats and stumbling blocks in shaping the nation. The question here is, how aware are we about this alarming crisis?
Considering a few aspects and implementing corrective measures to those will not suffice until we address the core issues. There are no shortcuts but to revamp the entire approach towards schools run by the Government.
The Questionable Quality of Education
India’s school education system is the largest on the global map. However, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2020 draws our attention to the fact that the students’ language and numeracy skills at the early ages are way behind the set curriculum expectations. It also lays importance on the baseline of education; the correlation of children’s cognitive skills and their performance in the early years in language and numeracy tasks.
At primary levels, there aren’t any specific standard examination patterns in most of the Government-run schools. The children are promoted directly to higher classes. This concern needs serious attention. It is important for the student, the teacher and the parent to understand the learning capabilities and the progress made during the course of the academic year.
While India is moving towards universal education at a progressive pace, the country’s educational quality is dubious, primarily in the schools run by the Government.
Schools need to focus on building a solid base in the initial years of primary education. Children should have a strong foundation for reading and arithmetic. This progression has to be the mandate while curriculum expectations and classroom activities are developed.
The Academic Standards
An uninvited class-division has come into existence in the field of education - the privileged and the economically-challenged. Children who belong to the deprived economic and social backgrounds of rural India suffer the most being part of a system that does not provide even-handed quality of education. We have to bear this moral burden until we decide to do something about it.
The quality of education and the facilities provided are below the bare minimum norms. This would result in serious social consequences. Government schools are often neglected, have deplorable teaching standards (let’s not blame the teachers), and poor performance records.
The World Bank report of 2017 estimated that by the year 2021, there will be 372 million children falling in the age bracket of 0 to 14 years. The quality of education given to them will be the factor that would determine what they will accomplish in their lives and what will be their contributions towards society.
The Enormous Struggles of the Educators
We are not to blame the teaching fraternity collectively. There has been remarkable progress in the process of them taking ownership and owning up their responsibilities towards society. Teachers are raising the bar of commitment by their relentless effort in providing the best possible within their limitations. Irrespective of the subjects, they now are familiar with the learning capabilities of every student in their classrooms.
Their bitterness lies in not able to have extended opportunities in mastering subject knowledge and the dearth of resources in classrooms. A well-equipped teacher education program is an exigency that can reshape and change the educational landscape.
The Scarcity of Adequate Infrastructure
The Government school’s need for the hour is adequate access to proper teaching aids and a pleasant and positive classroom environment. There is a devastating slit between our aspirations and the relentless jarring reality.
One of India’s most pressing issues in education lies within the four walls of the classrooms. It is one of the primary requisites to make the learning process seamless. Intellectual infrastructures inclusive of qualified and well-trained teachers, a school library, digital platforms, and the basic physical infrastructures like safe buildings, proper seating arrangements, playgrounds, and toilets facilitating hygiene are a must for every Government school in India.
The absence of these utilities or the improper functioning of infrastructure has adverse effects on educational outcomes. Various researches conclude on one factor that the school infrastructure plays a vital role in the educational development of a child. The wall colors, the seating conditions, the lighting in the classrooms are all factors that are equally important and play a vital role in the holistic development of the child.
There has been a remarkable decrease in teacher and student absenteeism, the children have started to learn better; then where lies the stumbling block? The penetration of digital education has changed the whole perspective of education strategies. The concern here is, how do we equip our students in the Government Schools to cope with the digital transformation?
There has to be a more focused approach to education in Government schools. The Indian Government’s contribution towards education is a mere 3% of the country’s total GDP. At this stage, a joint conscious effort to mitigate the prevailing drawbacks in India’s Government-run schools is indispensable.
How Right To Live is Making a Difference
Right To Live is mission to eliminate educational inequality. We envision a citizen-led system so that the sole responsibility of educating the children of underprivileged is not just in the hands of the Government. We consider this as a collaborative effort and provide digital infrastructure for the classroom, teachers with ample teaching aids so they can easily demonstrate e-learning programs, detailed teacher’s training programs, physical infrastructure, and improve the quality of classroom education.
Quality education for all will remain a distant dream if we do not provide the classrooms with adequate resources and the latest infrastructure. Let us positively lookout for the next National Education Policy, policy reformed to transform the education system in India.
Are the idealistic online classes reaching the students of government schools?
Digital classrooms and online teaching have emerged as the new reality today amidst the Corona-virus pandemic and the social distancing order. Technology dictates the term for online teaching as both public and private schools in India switch to digital platforms. This measure has brought a dramatic change in India's education system as online classes become the new norm.
E-learning and online classes call for remote learning on digital platforms—these range from virtual tutoring apps and video conferencing tools to online learning software. According to research, online learning is quick and accelerates information retention in children as it is more engaging and interactive.
Are online classes an effective medium of education?
The government has issued guidelines to schools to conduct online classes to ensure that learning outcomes are not compromised because of lockdown. Even in ordinary life conditions, online classes have become a new trend as they facilitate interactive learning.
Online classes bring relief to students as they can continue their studies without attending a physical school. A regular supply of electricity, an uninterrupted internet connection, the right digital gadgets, and a well-framed digital curriculum are the chief requisites for the proper conduct of online classes.
The charm of online classes is evident for students in towns and cities where appropriate resources are available. Students with households that have a good internet connection and the right kind of devices, like laptops and smartphones, have been able to join in for the classes. Students from small towns and rural areas struggle with a lack of resources, like internet speed and availability of gadgets. Sadly, most students of such regions are unable to attend online classes and stay deprived of the educational benefits.
The challenges that hinder the process of online learning are real and need attention. Let us first consider the challenges that face online learning on a nationwide platform.
Challenges faced in online learning
The stark digital divide steps out as the prime concern in conducting online classes in schools all over the country. Thus, there is a considerable divide in children from affluent urban families and low-income rural and semi-urban families as far as digital resources are concerned.
Internet is the backbone of running smooth online classes. In areas where there is a lack of reliable internet access or technology, students struggle to participate in digital learning. This gap can be seen across rural areas and small towns and between households with low-income groups. It is estimated that only 14.9 % of rural households have the internet as compared to 42% of urban households. Students from the economically weaker sections who attend government and low-budget private schools mainly face this problem.
Digital education heavily relies on an uninterrupted supply of electricity for powering gadgets as well as for internet connectivity. Although the government’s Saubhagya scheme records claim that more than 99% of homes India have an electric connection, the reality is entirely away from the facts. https://saubhagya.gov.in/
According to a national survey of Indian villages conducted in 2017-18 by the Ministry of Rural Development under Mission Antyodaya, only 47% of Indian villages receive more than 12 hours of electricity a day. Online classes remain a distant dream for the students in the remaining towns and lesser privileged areas.
The major challenge of online learning lies in the gap in access to electricity and internet connections to digital devices like computers or smartphones. This disparity is applicable across class, gender, region, and place of residence of students all over India. According to the National Sample Survey Education Report (2017-18), http://mospi.nic.in/sites/default/files/publication_reports/KI_Education_75th_Final.pdf
Although the Central and state governments have taken initiatives to improve the availability of resources, the digital infrastructure for remote learning has not improved due to an evident lack of funds. Online education requires necessary supportive measures to reduce social disparity and educational inequalities among learners.
Towards this effect, Right to Live has been working on a mission to improve the quality of e-learning in government schools. Right to Live has collaborated with BYJU’s, a Bangalore-based Ed-tech and online tutoring firm. The partnership has resulted in the introduction of an e-learning facility at Government schools. With BYJU’s free live classes on its Think and Learn app, there has been a significant increase in the response of lesser privileged students to attend online classes. As of today, this e-learning program is active in 40 schools, with almost 8500+ students attending it every day spread in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu; and it focuses on Government schools in rural areas where children cannot enjoy such facilities.
We, at Right to Live, are committed to providing quality education through our e-learning programs. We need your support in our mission of delivering e-learning in government schools so that we can reach out to the maximum number of underprivileged children in Government schools from rural parts of the country.
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