Since the last few years, ThinkZone has been working to provide quality education in rural areas of Odisha. ThinkZone’s program is primarily for kids of the age group of 3 to 10 years old, going to primary schools and anganwadis. To reach out to these kids, we engage with school teachers, Anganwadi workers, or with the community educators to deliver technology-enabled education using an activity-based approach. In these years, we have developed several programs in schools, anganwadis or with the community to work on the pre-school and foundational skills of the children.
Primarily our programs have been categorized into the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program and Primary Grade Education (PGE) Program. While the former works on the principle that education in primary years is important for the holistic development of kids (social, cognitive, physical and language skills) and to make kids school ready. The PGE program is to build foundational skills in children for language and arithmetic through a level-based approach. These programs are delivered through educators using a technology platform that provides them with activity modules for kids along with classroom management modules, self-development modules, and assessments. This is along with offline monitoring, management, and support.
Along with these programs, ThinkZone is building a community enhancement model via technology wherein low-income group families are engaged constantly via IVR based calls and an SMS based system to get regular DIY (Do-it-yourself) learning modules. These learning modules are usable by every parent – regardless of their literacy level or the type of mobile phone they can access, they can easily try this with their kids. These modules are completely user-friendly and are available in English, Hindi, and Odia.
As COVID-19 hit India, anganwadis and government schools went into lockdown. ThinkZone has been implementing its home-based model of learning so that no kid’s education is left out during this crisis. This long-term planning of the team just came in handy during the crisis as the initiative is targeted at families in under-resourced communities who have limited access to smartphones and the internet where the crisis hit hard. The penetration rates of the smartphone are around 25% and in rural India, it is even less. We have realized that children from low-income families who are not going to Anganwadis and government schools due to the on-going crisis are not getting access to education. So, we are doing our bit by trying to reach out to their parents so that they can engage children in activity-based learning content. Access to the content is free of cost for the families.
During this crisis, parents can call a number and learn about quality learning modules that they can use to engage their children. Apart from that the initiative also has the facility for the parent to receive bi-weekly IVR-based calls and SMSs on their mobile phones regarding DIY learning modules. These empower the parents to continue engaging and teaching their children. Parents can also schedule these automated calls for ease.
We also need to understand the importance of this initiative. The earliest years of life, before a child turns 6 years old, are very important for a child’s overall development. According to research, this is the age when 90% of their brain development takes place. Experiences related to the environment at home, community, lifestyle, and nutrition affect the development of children in the long run since children during these age groups spend maximum time at their homes with parents.
In a similar manner, the primary years in school are very important for the development of foundational skills in children. These foundational skills in arithmetic and language help a child towards a progressive future in later years of school. This is also the time when children also learn a lot from their surroundings, home environment, and friends because of which we strongly believe that parents can play a big part in their education. Through our initiative, we are providing parents with activities that can help in the development of strong foundational skills of children.
This technology-driven initiative is developing positive parent-child relationships along with enabling them towards developing learning skills of kids from an early age. We are thus enabling and empowering them to adopt modern educational practices at home.
Designed for children aged 3-10 years, this model has the same learning objectives as ThinkZone’s Early Childhood Education program and Primary Grade Education Program. Since the lockdown, ThinkZone has seen a 4-fold increase in the number of calls received and requested by the parents, and the duration of calls has doubled. So far, they have been able to help more than 8000 families. The program and its delivery over-call ensure both- physical distancing and access to learning.
We would like you to be a part of the initiative by sharing this with as many people as possible whom you think would really benefit. The process is simple, parents just have to call on the number 8570-829-829 and have to follow some simple instructions. They are then guided towards appropriate activities depending on their age or class. We would also love feedback on our initiative which you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message to us on social media. For sharing purpose you can use the poster below.