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Revitalizing rural education in India

Young women sit and write in their notebooks
The female literacy rate in rural Andhra Pradesh is low in many villages. To counter this, young women’s computational and written literacy are prioritized.

Key Points

  • Amrita University, in collaboration with the Indian government, launches a pilot program in four village schools across Andhra Pradesh, India, to provide computational education to students in grades 8 to 10. The program aims to make science and technology engaging through digital learning, focusing on skills like computational thinking, robotics, and maker skills.
  • Due to limited connectivity in rural areas, the program provides free software and support to the participating schools. Workshops cover a range of topics, from robotics to virtual reality experiences, fostering peer-to-peer interactions to enhance the educational impact. Dr. Sidney Strauss, former Chief Scientist of the Israeli Ministry of Education, collaborates to design a model incorporating these interactions.
  • In addition to technical education, the program emphasizes life skills through workshops addressing social issues like hygiene, smoking, alcoholism, and domestic violence. Volunteers aim to empower rural students, particularly young females facing educational disadvantages. The hope is that as the program expands, more students in rural Andhra Pradesh will thrive with increased access to high-quality education, innovative learning methodologies, and computational training.

In response to a globalizing world that requires increasingly high technological literacy, our own Amrita University, in collaboration with the Indian government, has announced a new pilot program that aims to provide quality computational education to rural children in India. In four village schools across the state of Andhra Pradesh, hundreds of students grade 8 to 10 are participating in workshops that range from robotics to basic life skills.

Dr. Venkat Rangan, Vice Chancellor of Amrita University, explains: “We intend to create enthusiasm among school students about science and technology by making it engaging and fun through digital learning.” Since rural locations have limited connectivity, we are working to provide free software and support to these schools as well as 22 others.

“It is very critical to add relevant skills to the schools’ curriculum such as computational thinking, robotics skills and maker skills and that is the value that Amrita is bringing to India’s Model Schools approach,” says Akshay Nagarajan the on-site coordinator of the new program.

“The peer-to-peer interaction going on at these workshops may be the key to successful initiatives in education,” says Dr. Sidney Strauss, former Chief Scientist of the Israeli Ministry of Education. Dr. Strauss is working with our volunteers and researchers to design and implement a model that incorporates peer-to-peer interactions into the workshops.

Children construct puppet theaters
Students construct multidimensional puppet theaters, allowing them to be in control of development for each stage of a project. This activity allows them to imbibe basic methodology for the construction of robots.

The young participants are gaining unique skills and experiences. For example, our volunteers have set up a cardboard headset that, paired with a smartphone, allows rural students to peek into the world of Virtual Reality.

Young boy looks joyously through a virtual reality cardboard box
A student experiences Virtual Reality through a cardboard box.

To balance the technical education, our volunteers are also offering a variety of life skill centered workshops. Amrita University’s AMMACHI Labs’ Life Enrichment Education program emphasizes the importance of open dialogue about social issues such as hygiene, smoking, alcoholism, and domestic violence.

Children play an educational game while seated on the floor
Students construct an “Ideal Village,” as part of a life skills workshop, allowing them to imagine a future home that meets their community’s needs, finding sustainable solutions to their everyday problems.

Our volunteers are hopeful that, as the program expands and develops, more students across rural Andhra Pradesh, especially young female students who are often at a disadvantage educationally, will thrive with the access to high quality education, creative methodologies of learning, and innovative computational training.

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