All 2nd std students in this Zilla Parishad school have their own digital tablets or tabs, which they know how to handle efficiently. They use the tabs to look at pictures of birds and animals, and learn their names in Marathi. Some write out letters of the Marathi alphabet and connect them to form drawings. The teacher asks the students to play poems from the textbook on the tab, and the students recite the poem while watching the animation that accompanies it. These are everyday scenes, not from some private expensive school, but from the Borranjani ZP School, in Ghansavangi tehsil of Jalna district..
Not only does this school make good use digital technology, the entire 2nd std class has become a ‘tab class’. The families of these students have come forward to provide them with the tabs. Recalling how this came about, class teacher Sachin Kate says, “We were preparing to digitise the school in 2016, after Diwali, and were in the process of collecting donations from the community for this purpose. I love technology, and am a member of the state’s ‘Techno-savvy Teachers’ Group’. I had noticed that this batch of students, then in the 1st std, already knew their tables upto 10, and were a bright lot. I wondered how far they would go if given access to the latest technology.”
Sachin Kate continues, “Our school Principal, too, agreed with my plan. So then in 2017, before the summer vacation, I shared the idea with the guardians of these students. I told them that there were several schools in our state where tabs were used in the classroom. I had borrowed a tab from a colleague, and demonstrated how it could be used by students to access the school curriculum. And then I appealed to the parents and guardians to finance our tab class.”
The teachers were in touch with the guardians all through the summer vacation, and the latter made donations worth Rs 1,50,000. This helped the teachers buy good quality tabs for each student going into the 2nd std. They loaded the entire 2nd std online syllabus, along with other useful videos and games, on all the tabs. They also bought 16 GB memory cards for each tab and a UPS, and in this way the 2nd std became a ‘tab class’.
The village community was amazed to see the children using tabs instead of regular textbooks. Soon, all 24 students in the class were on their tabs regularly. Mr. Kate says, “Their families were proud to see their children using the latest technology, particularly since our village is far from any urban centre. Of course, this was possible only because the families helped. We want to ensure that, just like their urban counterparts, our students too have access to the latest technology while learning. Even at such a young age, these 2nd std students handle the tab with ease. The animated syllabus and entertaining games and videos have definitely increased their interest in learning.”
The village community also assisted the school in turning digital. With the teachers and the families of the school-going students contributing, they raised approximately Rs 2,50,000. Mr. Kate says, “Around 60% of the population of Borranjani is made up of rich farmers, while 40% are farm labourers, brick kiln workers and small farmers. We knew we would need help from all of them in order to digitise the school. So we decided to appeal for donations, so that people could contribute, based on their capacity to give. The appeal was first made at a meeting chaired by the Tehsildar Kailas Andil, soon after Diwali in 2016.”
When the concept of a digital school was explained to the community, the response was enthusiastic. The teachers, too, collectively donated Rs 28,000. The village chief Nandkishore Jadhav and the Chairman of the School Management Committee, Parmeshwar Jadhav, each donated Rs 30,000. The well-to-do families gave Rs 1,000 rupees each, while others gave Rs 500 or even 200, whatever they could. It was inspiring that the first person to donate was a labourer, who was then followed by the entire village.
The money raised from these community contributions has been used to buy a computer, a projector, a printer, and an inverter for the school. The school has also painted the digital classroom with the help of the community. Here all students from the 1st to the 8th std take turns to study the digital syllabus on the computer.
Talking about the school’s future plans, Sachin Kate says, “The parents are happy with the digital school and the tab class. Given the progress made by the 2nd std students, we are planning to turn the 8th std into a tab class as well. Some parents are even suggesting that all classes start using tabs. But of course there are financial issues that have to be taken into consideration. So we are planning to turn the school into a ‘tab school’ one step at a time.”
Blog: Snehal Bansode-Sheludkar
Translation & editing: samata.shiksha team