So here’s the good news. Improvements to primary school enrollments in India has been a success story with an approach to improve access, affordability and infrastructure, in that order. Driven by the passionate efforts of government and non-government lead programs, school enrollments have improved, even in remote areas. The Right to Education act has made education affordable to more children and families.
Despite this, keeping children in school through graduation is still an issue and dropout rates continue to be high. According to the most recent survey conducted by Ministry of Human Resource Development, India, 27% of students dropout of schools between grades 1-5. Some reasons for this include below grade-level achievement, making it harder for students to cope with academic requirements in higher grades, teacher shortage & retention, lack of access to learning materials, and more.
All of this ties into having really good teachers in the classroom who can not only instruct but also lead. In India, the number and skill of teachers is yet to reach the scale of improvement needed to deliver this yet. Addressing a shortage of 1.5 million teachers in time is impossible without the risk of losing a generation. 500,000 new teachers are required, to be able to meet RTE standards (RTE Forum, 2014). An additional 660,000 existing teachers require teacher training.
According to the Annual Status of Education report (ASER) 2014, for children enrolled in government schools in grade 5, apart from a decline in reading levels between 2010 and 2012, reading levels over time are “low” and “stuck”. Without basic skills in place, the ability of teachers, even with access to training programs, to create students for the future – where 21st century skills like goal setting, entrepreneurship, resilience, confidence are going to matter more than pure academic knowledge – is of a major concern.
The scale of the problem is so huge that schools and educators will need a hybrid model of delivering education to address it. This hybrid model needs to be a blend of facilitators and technology.
What we can learn from healthcare?
We have seen a similar shortage of trained doctors throughout the country and with the advent of technology; healthcare at least tried to solve this problem differently. They created alternate staffing models, like nurses, para-health professionals, lab technicians who assisted the limited number of specialized doctors in their jobs. This was only possible because technology was developed to work in conjunction with these newly trained professionals. They could do 70-80% of what a specialist did using the help of technology. They had a “perfect blend”.
Similarly in education, blended learning with technology has a huge role to play here, check out this great example. Technology has become a big part of our lives, our homes and communities. The lower cost of devices, combined with better access to network and data, has made it easier for more people across socio-economic groups in India, to own and consume information on their smartphones and portable devices.
Zaya has taken an approach to develop tools that will act as the “operating system” for this Blended education model that can be scaled up easily with “para”-teachers and personalized learning technology.
So what is Blended learning?
Blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns –
- At least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace;
- At least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home;
- And the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience.
While students still attend “brick-and-mortar” schools with a teacher present, face-to-face classroom methods are combined with computer-mediated activities. Take a look at how Zaya does this.
Benefits of Blended Learning to India’s education system:
- Alternate staffing: It is difficult to train and scale up high quality subject experts but easier to find a para teacher who with a tool can deliver 70 to 80% of what a good instructor can deliver in today’s schools.
- Affordability: Less expensive to deliver, affordable and saves time.
- Engagement: It allows more effective interaction between the learners and their instructors.
- Quality: It improves the quality of teaching and learning as it supports the face-to-face teaching approach and provides the ability to track student progress.
- Personalization: Self-pacing for slow or quick learners reduces stress and increases satisfaction and retention.
- Flexibility in terms of availability: Anytime anywhere. In other words, blended learning enables the student to access the materials from anywhere at any time.
What we’re doing with our Schools
At Zaya Learning Labs we provide the experience, tools, and training for an effective transition to a 21st century learning experience in any school. We assess and create the strategies best-suited for success with specific teachers and students. Together we create a teacher-centric, student-focused classroom transformation to make your vision a reality.
Abhijeet, our head of school implementations says, “We have seen that children learn better with a blended learning model. Students are slowly moving away from rote learning & there’s a considerable amount of growth in their cognitive skills. Students are actively choosing to stay in school, versus dropout if subjects get too hard. We definitely have a long way to go, but this progress is very promising!” Learn more about our blended learning models, here.
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