What began as a project in a handful of schools that happened to have a computer room is now a full-fledged project running across all 143 senior secondary schools in Bihar’s Banka district in less than a year. The educational project, titled ‘Banka Unnayan’, envisages use of technology-based learning alongside continuous monitoring of students through a centralised tracking system, which then prepares a digital report card for each student. And while the use of such techniques in not new to many Indian cities, its quick implementation does come nothing short of an inspiration for many smaller towns.
Banka is a Maoist-hit tribal district in south-eastern Bihar that has a dismal literacy rate of 58.17 per cent, much below the national average of 74.04 per cent. Most government schools in the district are run-down structures with few classrooms and fewer teachers, however, some do have computer rooms. Iit is with the help of these handful of schools — five, to be precise — that had a computer room that the ‘Banka Unnayan’ project commenced in August 2017.
Today, the programme that began with 5 schools in August 2017 for students of Class 12, has now expanded to include 143 schools in the district. According to a report by the Indian Express, by August 2018, the programme will be expanded further to facilitate smart class facilities for Class 9 students as well.
According to the report, the project was initiated by Kundan Kumar, the Banka District Magistrate, along with Eckovation, a mobile-based social learning platform set up by a group of IIT graduates. “Our idea was to introduce it with our existing infrastructure. We have had rote learning for too long; our challenge was to make it more interactive. Children can watch the same videos on the Eckovation app. Anyone – parents, students, experts and people anywhere in the world – can download this app and interact with each other. What can be a better sight than a Katoria tribal student getting to interact with a student from the US,” the DM said.
How the educational project works:
– From Monday to Saturday, the students of 143 schools in Bihar’s Banka district are made to watch short audio-visuals in social studies, science and maths for an hour-and-a-half every day. The topics of these short audio-visuals are chosen from the curriculum. During these sessions, the students are encouraged to take notes as they watch the videos.
– Towards the end of each day, OMR sheet with five questions each from three subjects is given to the students.
– These sheets are then evaluated by the students themselves with the help of the teacher in charge. Students evaluate each other’s work and upload the daily results on the app.
The progress of the students can be monitored by parents, students and administration officials through the app itself. District Magistrate Kumar further said, “The centralised uploading of marks gives us a clear idea of how students have been faring in these three subjects and also tells which school or area in the district needs intervention.”