Since the past 1 year, we at Gramonnati Trust have been running an educational program, Vidya Jyoti, in the border districts of Rajouri and Poonch in J&K. The program has so far been run in a pilot stage in three schools.
Vidya Jyoti a joint initiative of Sri Aurobindo Society and Gramonnati Trust that aspires to improve the quality of rural education by bringing in technology and innovation into remote classrooms in collaboration with partner organisations. These schools suffer from lack of quality teachers and availability of teachers.
Technology and innovation for Transformation
The aim of the program is to empower teachers in rural schools to adopt and implement digital educational technology and innovative teaching methods to help improve learning experience and learning outcomes. At its core, Gramonnati Trust envisions rural schools where students have the opportunity to be exposed to the to 21st century technology, self learning platforms, latest knowledge and innovative teaching methods. In the execution of the project, Gramonnati Trust’s role is not only to bring in the technology but also to support and facilitate the teachers in the rural/remote schools to use the appropriate technology, innovation and resources productively and constructively, in the process create a rich and vibrant classroom environment in these schools, fostering a better and more active learning experience.
Collaborate and “Connect”
Vidya Jyoti Program, by virtue of its potential impact in the remote areas of the country is one of the major projects under “Renaissance of India” Program of Sri Aurobindo Society. We are the execution partner for the Program. Our role is to be “connectors”of solutions to rural schools.
In collaboration with several partners like CLT India, Meghshala, E-Vidyaloka, we are bringing in high value multimedia tools and resources, both in online and offline form to the schools. Teacher training is another important component of the Vidya Jyoti program for which we have tied up with Agastya Foundation to offer structured programs on Constructivism and teaching methods. We are also looking to provide English Support to the rural schools with organisations like English Helper.
In the last couple of months, we have also decided to collaborate with Ullas Trust, a Polaris Foundation social initiative with an aim to recognise academic excellence and aid students from economically disadvantage sections of society to achieve their dreams through specific workshops, life skills, personality development, mentoring and guidance.
The scope of the Vidya Jyoti program is immense. It’s like a highway of knowledge, resources and technology. What rides on it depends on the requirement of the schools and the value of the intervention.
In May 2019, we received a large funding from TCS Foundation, enabling us to scale up the project to more schools. The Indian Army, a crucial partner in our work is also supporting us financially through its Sadbhavana Funds. We have been working closely with Army authorities and Civil Administration in the Rajouri & Poonch region, to identify and select the schools, as many of the schools are run by the Army.
In the next 6 months, we plan to expand the Vidya Jyoti Program to 10-15 schools and another 10-15 in the next one year.
To give a boost to the project, we have recently hired an experienced Project Manager, Shakoor Ahmad Lone, to take up the execution of Vidya Jyoti in J&K, with strong backend support. Iqra, a young girl from Jammu who has just completed her 12th, will be involved in Vidya Jyoti as well. While she is still pursuing her college, she aspires to become an entrepreneur and make a difference for her community. Her journey with Gramonnati towards entrepreneurship has started with her induction into the Vidya Jyoti program.
Induction & training
From 8th July 2019 to 21st July 2019, our inductees came down to Pondicherry from J&K to formally learn about the Vidya Jyoti program and be trained in its implementation. In Pondicherry, they were introduced to the various components and technology related to Vidya Jyoti and also taught on how to use the hardware and software through live demonstrations and hands-on learning provided by Gramonnati Team in Pondicherry.
Following the Vidya Jyoti induction in Pondicherry, both Iqra and Shakoor went to Ullas Trust in Chennai and then in Delhi to be inducted into their programs, processes, curriculums, methodology and delivery. They also had the opportunity to witness some of the work and programs being conducted by Ullas Trust with the Delhi chapter.
The Way Forward
Going forward, we have prepared a detailed plan on the execution of the program in the coming months, using the grants we have secured. In the next 2 months, the team in J&K will discuss with Army officials the plan, shortlisting the schools, and carrying out school, teacher and student assessments. Once the survey is completed, we will identify programs for each school based on the requirement and feasibility. We will simultaneously also hire and train coordinators who will be responsible to in the monitoring, evaluation, and functioning of Vidya Jyoti program in the schools. The idea is to create a strong team to ensure high quality and sustainable implementation of Vidya Jyoti in the rural schools in J&K.
If all goes well, we plan to kickoff Vidya Jyoti in at least 5-8 schools in a structured and organized fashion within the next 2-3 months. We are hoping for the program to be a success and eventually scale it up to 100 schools.