The literacy rate in Borande, a small tribal dominant village in Palghar district of Maharashtra, stood close to 66 percent in the 2011 census reports of India. The Zila Parishad School in this village currently has 173 students enrolled between grades 1 and 8.
The school practised conventional book-based learning until recently. In 2016, the Trusts and its implementing partner Dr ML Dhawle Memorial Trust introduced the Integrated Approach to Technology in Education (ITE) in the school; and since then, the students have been showing remarkable progress in learning which has had a ripple effect on the community — the villagers have started embracing technology to learn about new things.
Goraksha Rotkar, a teacher of grade 7, explains how the learning curve of the students is gradually increasing with familiarisation of internet and the use of laptop. “We received training on ITE and while deploying the learnings into classrooms, we realised how technology can attract children towards learning new things and attaining greater knowledge of their subjects. Students watch videos related to their academic lessons, use search engines to learn more about their classroom topics and create their own projects,” he happily shares.
“I feel privileged that I get to operate the laptop and learn from the internet during our ITE classes, which, unfortunately, my peers from non-ITE schools are not exposed to,” says Yuvraj Madhukar Nisal, a grade 7 student of the Zila Parishad School. He adds, “Earlier, our knowledge was confined to the books and our village surroundings. But with technology integrated into our education process, we explore different topics to seek information and discussion at school and then share our learnings with others in the village.”
The ITE programme is thus showing a noticeable shift in the learning method of these first generation learners in the schools of Vikramgadh cluster of Palghar district.
“With the introduction of ITE in our school, there has been a significant increase in students’ attendance,” says Subhash Bhoir, headmaster of the Zila Parishad School in Borande. “Children actively engage in self-study to widen their horizon of understanding. They not only seek information from the internet, but also convey their learnings to their parents and siblings at home. Students of primary classes who are not catered with ITE are fascinated to use laptops for studies and hence motivated to continue their schooling to elementary level,” he adds.
The shift towards digital learning is penetrating into the community as well as these children interact with their community members, visit places such as the primary healthcare centre of their villages and often help finding solutions to problems using technology. ITE is impacting communities in villages in an unprecedented manner.