Improving Educational Outcomes of Early-Grade Learners
Helping children from low-income communities develop age-appropriate skills
Prepare children for Primary School through Exploration and Early literacy skills
Preparing kids for formal education by providing them with a good foundation in early learning
Scalable Technology-Driven Educational Solutions
A localized tech-based pedagogy for first-generation learners and for improving the skills of facilitators who come from a limited educational background
Promoting Activity Based Learning
Low cost ‘school-in-a-box’ solution containing proprietary teaching resources which aid in effective learning
Enabling parents to support their children’s overall educational development
Using accessible technology to enable low-income families to adopt modern educational practices at home
24 Million kids
aged 3-5 years lack the basic skills to do well in schools
Out of 1.3 Million Anganwadis(public-run childcare centres)
most of them are unable to facilitate learning among kids
Education during the formative years of a child defines his/ her career and life. In fact, most of the children across India don’t have exposure to a proper learning environment before they receive a formal education because the current focus has been just on providing food/nutrition. So they are at a disadvantage when they enter the public education system and lack the basic skills to do well in there.
25 million children
enrolled in primary grades don't have age-appropriate learning competencies
45% Grade 5 children
are of actually Grade 2 level and less!
Imagine being asked to read long paragraphs and tested on it without ever getting the chance to learn the alphabet; or having to solve mathematical equations, without knowing numbers. That is the struggle of millions of children in India every day. This is a key reason why nearly 40% of children drop out after primary grades.
Who are we?ThinkZone is an award-winning social enterprise which implements an affordable technology-enabled ‘School-in-a-box’ education-solution aimed at bridging the learning-gaps among children from low-income communities. Trained community educators, public childcare workers, and school teachers deliver quality early-grade education programs by using ThinkZone's technology, proprietary teaching resources, classroom activities, and management tools.
This will be the very few times in India where a localized tech-based pedagogy is being built for first-generation learners and for improving the skills of facilitators who come from a limited educational background. ThinkZone has already provided ‘level-based’ quality early-childhood and primary level education for 4,000+ children at under $1.5/month per child across remote villages of India.
ThinkZone is creating a scalable model of technology and community interventions that can be adapted to the local context. Our working model has the following USPs:
i. Quality Learning: Level-appropriate focussed on children’s learning outcomes and not on capex (buildings, benches, tables etc)
ii. Affordable: Program-based and Technology-enabled, unlike the brick and mortar model
iii. Accessible: Community-based approach leveraging local talent and knowledge
iv. Scalable: Low cost operations ensures no disruption and fast expansion
"Improving learning outcomes of children from low-income communities by implementing high-quality education programs"
Following a 360 degree approach of working with children, facilitators and community
Simple yet engaging content on a mobile platform for educators that can be accessed offline. Self-guided byte-sized learning modules on the platform helps educators for their teaching skills.
Low cost "School-in-a-box" solution contains proprietary teaching resources for Early Grade Learners. The focus is to improve the learning outcomes of children using activity-based teaching.
Following the MIT evidence-based ‘Teaching-at-the-Right-Level’ (TaRL) educational approach for helping children develop appropriate language and arithmetic skills based on their age.
Our pedagogy focuses on self-paced learning, peer-led learning and complete ‘mastery’ of concepts. Our program also consists of worksheets completion which helps us track progress
Using accessible technology to work with low-income families on developing positive parent-child relationships along with enabling them towards developing learning skills of kids from an early age.
Trained Educators implementing programs during specific hours in a day and regular monitoring of the program and learning outcomes using offline technology.
MEET THE TEAM
Founder and CEO
Binayak is a Laureate Global Fellow, MassChallenge Alumnus, and a CEMEX-TEC global social entrepreneur. He has worked with the World Bank as a Global Education Practice Consultant; with Unitus, a venture capital firm as a Startup Scout and with Larsen & Toubro as a Technology Consultant. He is an alumnus of Xavier Institute of Management - Bhubaneswar.
Shirdeep is the Program Head at Thinkzone and has several years of experience in education and technology space. He has worked on the development and implementation of ed-tech products and has experience in project management, where he has led teams for online assessments of large-scale private and public entities.
Nrusingha is the Technology Head at ThinkZone and has several years of experience in the technology space. He is a MEAN Stack expert & open-source evangelist. He has successfully led teams in developing education and healthcare products and has also worked towards executing large scale government projects in the education domain.
Pragyan is Program Manager at ThinkZone and her experience domains include pre-primary and primary educational content development, grassroots level training implementation (Training of Trainers -ToT), community engagement modules development and education programs operations. She is also a management graduate from KIIT Bhubaneswar.
Snehanshu is Program Manager at ThinkZone and his experience domains include pre-primary and primary educational content development, communication, Training of Trainers (TOT) and community engagement module development. Snehanshu is an India Fellow Alumnus and has worked in the rural village of Odisha during his fellowship year.
Itishree is Program Manager at ThinkZone. She has multiple years’ experience in teacher training and has also worked across domains like career counseling and adolescent health & hygiene modules development. Itishree is an India Fellow Alumna and has worked in rural Uttar Pradesh during her fellowship year. She has a Masters in Applied Psychology and is a storyteller.
Senior Operations Manager
Manoj works as Senior Operations Manager of ThinkZone. He has more than 15 years of program operations experience in rural India. Manoj has implemented several large scale education, healthcare and community engagement programs in multiple geographies and has also worked with the public administration in implementing government schemes. Manoj is ThinkZone’s very first team member.
Jnana works as Operations Manager of ThinkZone. He has multiple years of experience in education program operations in rural India and has also worked extensively in the rural marketing space. An alumnus of KIIT University, Jnana has extensive know-how of the Bottom-of-Pyramid markets and has expertise in community engagement along with managing large field teams across villages.
Lopamudra works as the Cluster Manager of ThinkZone. Lopa has multiple years of experience in the social impact space and is our very first ThinkZone teacher. She currently mentors and supports community teachers, Anganwadi workers, and primary school teachers in villages and has experience in multiple domains such as stakeholder management, community engagement, and monitoring & evaluation.
Priti works as the Cluster Manager of ThinkZone. She has several years of experience in the development sector and has worked with leading education NGO Pratham and in implementing the Swach Bharat Abhiyan program in rural Odisha space. Priti currently mentors and supports community teachers, anganwadi workers, and primary school teachers in villages.
Debasmita works as the Cluster Manager of ThinkZone. She was one of the very first ThinkZone teachers and currently mentors and supports community teachers, Anganwadi workers, and primary school teachers in villages. She has experience in multiple domains such as stakeholder management, community engagement, and monitoring & evaluation.
Priyanka Swain works as the Cluster Manager of ThinkZone. She has multiple years of experience in the education space and has also worked in the M&E of education programs in villages. She currently mentors and supports community teachers, Anganwadi workers, and primary school teachers in villages and also has experience in stakeholder management and community engagement.
Teri Sturla Rousseau
Teri Sturla Rousseau is a cross-functional leader with experience in driving product and marketing innovation. She has launched over 80 digital products in education and has over two decades of experience in ed-tech space.
Paulette (Varghese) Altmaier
Paulette (Varghese) Altmaier has over 2 decades experience in the tech industry with Cisco, Dell and Khan Academy. She is a leading Ed-tech expert with a focus on technology innovation for market leadership, revenue and market share growth.
Rajiv Kucchal is the General Partner of Exfinity Fund. He has over 2 decades of experience in the IT industry (Infosys). He led Infosys’ foray into BPO as a founding team member of Progeon (now Infosys BPO). He is the ex-COO of Onmobile and is an active Angel Investor.
C Chandra Shekhar
C Chandra Shekhar is the Managing Director of Catalyst IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd. He is a Nasscom Odisha State Council Member and SME Council Member.
Swagatika Samantray is an University of London alumnus with 15 years research. She has working experience in educational psychology & early childhood education.
Jhanja Das has over 2 decades of experience in early-grade education space. She is a ToT and Story-teller expert and also the founder of Kathasagar Academy.
Early Childhood Education
Our early-childhood program focuses on kids who are not getting the right support early-on and fall behind on the following important development skills:
– Physical: Unstable(Ex: Unable to hold a pencil and write, No hand-eye coordination etc)
– Language(Ex: Unable to understand and speak simple sentences)
– Social & Emotional(Ex: Cannot interact with fellow children, cries when goes to an external environment)
– Memory: (Ex: Unable to understand and recollect simple objects)
Our program focuses on these parameters via a skills-based approach by working on the development of Physical (Gross Motor & Fine Motor), Language (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking), Social & Emotional (Personal Work, Play and Inter-relation) and Memory Skills (Classification, Pre-mathematical concepts). Children are school ready and are eager to learn, thereby enabling a successful transition to a primary school learning environment.
To be able to assess whether the program has the desired effect, we assess children’s learning outcomes based on 12 broad learning parameters under the above 4 mentioned skills (physical, language, memory and social & emotional)
Primary Level Education
The program is for children who are already in formal primary schools but several steps behind basic learning competencies. They fall behind due to the inability to perform even the most basic tasks in the classroom, develop behavior problems and a lack of motivation for staying in schools. Some of the key skills which children lack are:
– Language: (Ex: Grade 4 children unable to read and write letters, common words, and paragraph with 4 simple sentences – Grade 1 Level)
– Arithmetic: (Ex: Grade 5 children unable to tell time, do simple currency operations,2-digit subtraction etc – Grade 2 Level)
Our Primary Level Education program is a Level-based and not an Age-Based program with every level having a particular conceptual ability defined (Ex: 2 digit addition and subtraction for certain level and fractions addition and subtraction for some other level). The focus of the program is on:
– Improving reading fluency, reading & listening comprehension (Vocabulary building, improving speaking ability, improving writing ability etc) and moving from one level to another (present from alphabet level, word level, sentence level, and story level)
– Improving Arithmetic Ability (Number concepts, addition, subtraction, geometry, multiplication, division, fractions and decimals etc)
To be able to assess whether the program has the desired effect, we assess children’s learning outcomes based on learning parameters of reading and arithmetic skills of all the levels.
Educators’ Skilling Program
The purpose of the program is to help facilitators improve student engagement and motivation and thereby improving educational outcomes. Our skilling program contains –
a) An Initial Pre-Program Training which covers multiple themes like Teaching-at-the-Right-Level, usage of activity-based resources, and technology in day to day teaching and improving their own understanding of subject knowledge.
b) Byte-sized learning modules on the mobile platform designed to supplement direct training and also serves as standalone learning courses for self-guided continuing education. Our resource library contains brief videos illustrating best practices of early childhood care and education revolving around various themes in child development.
c) Monthly Training sessions are also provided to the teachers continuing in their skill development program. The focus during this training is on four skills – Communication, Understanding of the Subject Matter, Activity-Based Teaching and General Awareness. These sessions also help in providing support and guidance towards the management of the students, implementation of the program and working with technology.
We also engage with low-income group families via different community outreach programs to make them understand about quality education. We also enable and empower them to adopt modern educational practices at home, we do this via accessible technology. Parents receive small learning modules which they can try at their homes with children. Apart from this they also receive monthly updates about the learning outcome of their children.
ThinkZone is building a community enhancement model via technology wherein low-income group families are continuously engaged via IVR, chatbots and an SMS based system to get regular DIY learning modules which they can try with their children. Our bot and IVR technology are designed to be usable by every parent – regardless of their literacy level or the type of mobile phone they can access. Our modules are completely user-friendly and allow schedule automated calls to parents for delivering content as well as an option for parents to leave feedback or talk to mentors for guidance.
Third Party Endorsements
IN THE NEWS
HIG B6, HB Colony
Cuttack - 753014, Odisha