Empowering students and teachers in the pandemic
More than 1.5 billion students globally, with over 300 million from India, were affected due to school closures during the pandemic. In many places, the schools are predicted to remain closed till the end of the academic year. The disruptions have created obstacles in the continuity of education, particularly for children from low-income households, most of whom were studying in low-cost private or public schools. This phase has been more challenging for them due to inconsistent access to devices and home internet, disruption of essential meal programs, and child-care support for working parents.
The Tata Trusts have a five-year collaboration with Khan Academy Inc and has seeded Khan Academy India (KAI) focusing on reaching out to underserved learners. The organisation’s mission was democratising access to quality education by creating localised (vernacular) content, working with public (government) school systems, aligned with a strong area of focus of donors of reaching the underserved.
The objectives of the initiative were:
- To build a sustainable platform to provide free, world-class education in Indian languages, aligned to Indian curricula.
- To provide resources that can be used by teachers within classrooms and by students outside it for mastery-based learning in a self-paced environment.
- To build competencies of teachers and train them to access adaptive tutoring.
- To become a comprehensive resource for Math and Science for students studying in middle and higher secondary grades.
The initiative proved a godsend for both teachers and students during the pandemic.
With online education becoming the new norm during the pandemic, KAI partnered with several state Governments, public schools, corporations, and civil society organisations across the country to provide millions of students with free access to high-quality learning materials in their preferred language.
KAI partnered with the Government of Punjab by creating content in Punjabi for over one million students studying in grades between one and ten. Also, extensive teacher training programmes were undertaken to make over 10,000 teachers in 7,000 schools technology-savvy.
Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas
Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNV) function under the Ministry of Education (MoE), Government of India. KAI trained ~900 teachers from JNVs in the usage of its Hinglish (conversational Hindi) content. As a part of the collaboration, KAI trained teachers to adopt and integrate technology and online resources, while conducting classes virtually during the pandemic. As a result of the training, teachers were able to engage students using KAI's mastery-based portal, by assigning learning resources and assessments to students. The portal provides teachers and students of grades between seven and ten with skill-based exercises and Math videos. Over 97,000 students benefited from the initiative.
Subsequently, KAI has initiated the ‘mentor teacher program’ with JNVs (train the trainer model) to scale the programme up. The mentors share weekly content recommendations to the teachers based on the lessons they conduct in the classes.
KAI facilitated the 'Summer Guided Learning Programme', with the help of the Government of Delhi, for 500,000 students of grades nine and ten to ensure continuity in learning when schools closed down.
Under the programme, micro-lessons comprising two-three videos and exercises in Math were made available in English, Hindi and Hinglish. The lessons were shared two to three times a week over WhatsApp.
The programme focused on revising basics and pre-requisites from previous grades to help the students build a strong foundation and get ready for the next grade.
Like the Delhi model, KAI supported the 'Summer Guided Learning Programme' of the Government of Uttar Pradesh for grades six to eight.
KAI supplemented online Math learning for students in grades six to ten through Hindi and Hinglish language content to support the efforts of the Government of Chandigarh.
KAI is partnering with Kalike, an associate organisation of the Trusts to help over one million students with digital educational content in English, Hindi and Kannada, to aid the efforts of the Government of Karnataka.
Businesses and civil society organisations
KAI enabled many app-based businesses, including Zomato, Snapdeal, Dunzo, Awign and Gomechanic, to extend education as a free benefit for the children of their blue-collar and gig workers. KAI provided time-boxed programmes for these children with the objective of either helping the students to prepare for examinations or equip them for subsequent grades. Similar programmes were also implemented with many civil society organisations.
KAI implemented ready-to-use Math lesson plans, guides, and teacher-training programmes for teachers and parents. The guides made it convenient to assign relevant Math content for revising basics or remediation, minimising learning loss.
KAI also conducted free webinars and virtual workshops to support teachers with content and to enable them to manage remote classrooms.
Through its efforts, KAI continues to empower teachers and improve children’s learning outcomes despite the continued closure of schools.