The Haryana Department of Education turned to this NGO to boost digital learning in government schools. H-Edexlive

The Haryana Department of Education has enlisted the Lotus Petal Foundation to harness digital technology and teaching to improve learning outcomes in public schools. A non-profit organization, the Lotus Petal Foundation has been awarded 41 of the 78 Sanskriti Model Primary Schools in the Gurugram region as part of its Vidya Sahyog project. The initial focus will be on developing schools’ digital infrastructure, including the provision of technology such as microphones, webcams, tablets and stable internet connectivity. The program will start with English as the main subject and lessons will include drama and art in interactive sessions that will be broadcast live to schools.

“It will be a departure from the way online education is delivered to students in public schools, using pre-recorded content. Here, the focus is on the interaction between students and teachers. All our teachers get tablets they can write on like on a whiteboard, and the same will appear for students on screen, making the experience more lively,” says Kushal Chakravorty, who co-founded LDP in 2011. The foundation runs the Vidyananda School for underprivileged children in Gurugram, from kindergarten to class XII, and provides students with health care and nutrition.

The Vidya Sahyog program was conceptualized in 2018, and last year it was structured as a way to supplement public school teachers. In September 2021, the Government of Haryana was approached and the LPF received sanction to undertake the project. “It is an important public-private partnership. The government can provide us with infrastructure in terms of schools and high enrollment rates for children. NGOs have the capacity to teach them and accelerate interventions through the knowledge of educational technology,” says Chakravorti.

While the foundation equips schools with digital infrastructure, it also ensures that students and faculty are able to deploy the technology by training them on their campuses. A bridging program has also been organized for students who have been taken away from the education system due to the pandemic. Apart from this, in order to bring the students up to speed with their learning levels, accelerated courses have also been set up to deal with the basic concepts. “We were able to get nearly 100 students back on track in the last six months,” says Chakravorty.

An interesting aspect of the program, which Chakravorty points out, is that improving the educational infrastructure of public schools will also have an impact on girls’ education in the region. “Many times, parents from disadvantaged backgrounds send the boy of the house to a decent private school, thinking that he will be the one who will have a career. On the other hand, girls are enrolled in public schools in order to reduce the costs. By improving the quality of education in these schools, it will help female students to discover better opportunities. We will also have counselors on board to guide them through the different career choices possible,” he adds. .

The foundation is also keen to build infrastructure to help teachers in the digital education profession. Right from soundproof rooms, ergonomic chairs, and high-functioning tablets and systems, Chakravorty says the foundation is setting up these facilities at its Gurugram campus, and a new school is also in the works. Although Chakravorty believes that every school should ideally have a computer lab, he is aware that the use of these labs in the current scenario might not be optimal. LPF’s solution to the digital literacy gaps in public schools is a mobile e-learning van, fully equipped with laptops and other necessary gadgets that will bring digital education to these schools at a frequency about twice a week to train students in the region. .

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