Kapsi is a small village in Barshi division of Solapur district. Even now, no state transport buses pass this way. The village economy depends mainly on farming. Most people living here are daily wage labourers and farmers.
And yet, if you were to enter the Zilla Parishad (District Council) school here, you would see something quite unexpected. In its cheerfully decorated classrooms, you would see students engrossed in their studies, using tablets. You would observe teachers making use of the Internet, and of LCD projectors in place of blackboards. And you would not find a single school bag. This is a school without school bags – a “tab school”.
The Kapsi school is the first 100 % ZP tab school in Solapur.
It was when I participated in a workshop organised by the education department of Solapur for tech-savvy teachers that the work done by Sandeep Gund ‘Sir’ inspired me. The first successful 100% tab school was the one he had started in the tribal hamlet of Thane – the Pashtepada ZP School. I was deeply impressed, and the question kept going around in my head – if a tribal school could become a tab school, why not our ZP schools in Solapur?
Back in Solapur, I stayed in touch with Sandeep Gund ‘Sir’ and also with Ranjit Singh Disle ‘Sir’, another eminent tech-savvy teacher in Solapur who helped me understand new developments in the field. I was guiding other schools about digital technology and its many uses in education and, at the same time, also talking to the villagers and explaining the benefits of computers, tablets, and mobile phones – emphasising that we needed to keep up with the times. I showed them videos and news reports about digital schools, which impressed them greatly, but as soon as they learnt that these things required money that they must raise, they would make themselves scarce.
I did not give up. Whenever I visited any ZP school, I would bring up the topic of digital schools.
In due course, I visited Kapsi village. The school there was really small, but once the teachers, Rameshwar Lande, and Shobha Lande, had grasped the digital school concept, they were filled with enthusiasm. They asked me to speak to the villagers there, although my earlier experiences had left me with very little hope. After all, most villagers were not rich people, and they had little money to spare.
However, I agreed to have a discussion with the villagers. I showed them pictures of students at the Pashtepada school using tabs. I showed them how Disle ‘Sir’ used Skype to connect with students in other countries.
They were quite fascinated and excited. I said, ‘For development, we need to be in touch with the rest of the world, and even though we are far from the big cities, this can be achieved with the help of digital technology.’ And I added, ‘If each of you were to pitch in some money now, it would help your children have a bright future.’
I made several further trips to Kapsi to convince the villagers of this. The growing interest from parents and guardians was palpable.
Meanwhile, I was introducing the Landes to digital technology. I had them buy a smart phone, on which I downloaded the WhatsApp messaging app as well as educational apps that I had on my own phone. They started using these to teach in class. Their students, too, began to enjoy this method of learning which did away with a blackboard and text books.
All through this, I kept up the dialogue with the villagers. Finally, five families agreed to buy tabs for their children.
June 2017, the beginning of the new academic year. Five students from Kapsi Zilla Parishad School started using the tab as a learning aid. In keeping with the Std in which each studied, I downloaded their textbooks in pdf format from the e-balbharati website, along with other helpful software and plenty of educational games.
I kept going to Kapsi to guide the teachers and help the students with their tabs. The students clearly enjoyed playing games, listening to songs and watching educational videos much more than they did studying from books and making notes. In fact, since they now no longer needed their text books or notebooks, they didn’t need their school bags either. All they needed to carry was the tab.
When the other students saw how well those using tabs were doing, and how much they were enjoying the process of learning, they persuaded their guardians to buy them tabs as well.
When I learned that the families of all 25 students were willing to buy them tabs, my happiness knew no bounds.
I received a cheque for Rs 1,00,000, raised by the people of Kapsi, for the purchase of tabs and an LCD projector. And by September 2017, the school in Kapsi had became a 100% tab school.
When all the students had acquired tabs, Mr. and Mrs. Lande bought computers for the school.
Thus started their journey into the age of technology. The students got rid of their school bags. The villagers were impressed and overjoyed to see their children expertly handling tabs and computers.
We downloaded 292 educational apps on the tabs. We also acquired BlueStacks software, so that Android apps could be used on the tabs. Soon, the students had developed a keener interest in their studies. They began concentrating in class, and doing better in exams.
The tabs are charged in school but the students are allowed to take them home. They write their homework at home in notebooks, and send it as photographs to their teachers. The grown-ups at home are amazed by it all.
A small village like Kapsi has come into the limelight because of the tab. The local newspapers from Solapur wrote about this tab school, and made it famous. More and more families began to enrol their children in the ZP school rather than in the private schools close by. Recently, the Kapsi ZP School was also nominated to be an ISO-certified school.
Other schools in the district are trying to follow the example set by this school and its tech-savvy students.
Writer: Avinash More, Subject Expert, Panchayat Samiti,
Barshi division, Solapur district
Contact – 9423081067
Editing and Translation: samata.shiksha team