Teaching Assistance for Teachers to Change the World by Lenovo Meghshala Teacher Enablement Program
India faces a multitude of educational challenges, including ineffective curriculums and a disconnect from ground reality. Teachers, consumed by administrative work, lack time to plan their lessons. Ed-tech schemes dump hardware in classrooms ignoring professional development. This is an area of concern for both the government and industry. When children with poor learning levels proceed to higher grades, it is often found that they are unable to cope up with the pressure of inadequate teaching and end up dropping out of the system earlier than desirable. Preventing this and improving the quality of teaching and learning at every level is therefore of paramount importance.
Lenovo Supported Meghshala tried to understand the problem really and developed a solution to address the same. Moreover, for the last 4 years, they have been operational in 3 states, stepping into the 4th as we speak and helping resolve the problem from the roots.
At Meghshala, it's truly believed that the most essential and integral part of a school is its teachers and those who are the focal point of their work. In government schools, the core issue is that the teachers are too loaded with administration and routine to focus on upskilling to help the children. Here’s where the shiny app of Lenovo-supported Meghshala comes in.
The application mentioned here makes audio-visual lectures topic-wise and grade-wise while cultivating solid values like gender equality and tolerance. The videos are available in multiple languages to facilitate smooth learning, significantly facilitating the local language and culture, which is the product’s key feature.
The organisation is moving towards the vision of making this available throughout the country, contributing to shaping tomorrow, and aspires to make it available to more than a million teachers by the end of the year. In addition to the videos, the digitalisation in the schools enables the utilisation of an upgraded forms app, replacing pen and paper with a digital app that helps collect qualitative data, conduct surveys, and acts as a dedicated helpline. Moreover, this all can be availed on a simple SD card to deal with limited or no internet connectivity in remote locations.
The results of the product and impact are measured regularly via student and teachers outcomes data, classroom feedback sessions, and observational outcomes. The application of the product and implementation is mended and molded to suit the requirements and the plan and made per those effects.
The path so far has not been the easiest for the organisation, but the motivation behind the efforts remains as strong as the beginning, if not stronger. Highlighting the learning through the process, Jyoti Thyagarajan, Founder of Meghshala, says, “Today, we know that it is not just a simple Olympic Gold that awaits us at the bottom of the hill. It is an excitable mass of bright-eyed children waiting to spread their wings to fly into the brave new world. With them is a group of teachers who will teach them to trim their wing feathers to catch the wind just so. The skills we perfected on our hair-whipping ride down will transfer to them, to stand them in good stead as they start their own adventure. It is time for the terrifying speed of downhill racing and crazy adrenaline rushes. If not now, then when?” clearly pointing towards the fact that every hurdle they might face in this journey would only strengthen their resolution.
This determination has been the medium of change for a lot of people. By far Lenovo supported Meghshala has made a difference in the education of more than 2 lac students across 2500+ schools and assisted in upskilling more than 7000 teachers through their focus on the train-the-trainer initiative. The volunteers can then become the volunteers for the initiative. Also, upgraded the hardware utilisation in those schools providing them with tablets and helped enable smart classrooms to better prepare for tomorrow.
Stressing the need for technical assistance and upgrade, Pratima Harite, Head of Philanthropy for the Asia Pacific at Lenovo says, “We saw teachers continuing to provide STEM content for the programme so that the students would not face a gap in their education. And, many of these teachers had just their smartphone, their skills, and confidence to rely on. This, to me, is the strongest example of ground-up innovation and showcases the potential of furthering the stem mindset.”
The teachers of schools across states agree with the understanding of the project and do see the application and the material therein as a pragmatic solution for teaching classes. The demand for the same has been increasing, especially from the teachers who understand the importance of being well-equipped while presenting their students with the skill to face the world out there. Ms. B. Hemalatha, Head Master, K. Narayanapura Government Primary School mentioned as feedback that the application helps her explain difficult topics to her students and helps students be familiar with the games and things that are not a part of their routine, also it helps students recall the sessions easily due to the audio-visual effects. She has been using the app for more than three years now and expresses her pleasure in seeing her students learning new things.
The Lenovo-supported Meghshala project has seen a positive change happening throughout the recipient schools. It still looks forward to constant feedback to make the experience more helpful and richer with each update. Though that is a constant process in itself, moving forward the major focus is towards making the application offline-capable to support limited internet connectivity and enable collaborative content editing for a more user-focused experience.