Published: 08th November 2018
Why this Digital Dost can help Government school kids cut the drop-out rate
'Gyantantra’ means knowledge machine in Sanskrit. ‘Digital Dost’, is a personalised, self-paced and adaptive digital friend who handholds the child throughout their learning
Very often, in remote areas, teachers struggle to handle children at different levels of learning. The teacher's motivation to deal with a mixed bag of students decreases eventually. Also, teachers are scanty in these areas and in Government schools, one is not allowed to fail their students till class eight. In order to address all these issues, Captain Indraani Singh, Founder of Literacy India came up with Gyantantra Digital Dost (GDD).
Developed in 2009, GDD is an innovative PC-based, interactive learning tool, which is addressing the learning gap widely prevalent in the early grade schools across India, in a cost-effective and scalable manner. This unique virtual teacher is able to hasten the learning process and promises to not only bring a child’s reading ability to an age-appropriate level but also settle the child in an age-appropriate grade at the end of the intervention period. The content introduces the child to 3Rs (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) in an interesting manner.
‘Gyantantra’ means knowledge machine in Sanskrit. ‘Digital Dost’, is a personalised, self-paced and adaptive digital friend who handholds the child throughout their learning.
While I was travelling on the roads of Mumbai, I saw a man sitting under a flyover with a computer on his lap and street children gathered around him with eagerness in their eyes. That's when it struck me that children enjoy these digital programs way more than what you manually teach them. There have already been several softwares that only let children sit, read and listen but not engage them or be interactive enough to catch their attention for a longer span of time. That's how I determined that virtual teachers engage with students and make it easier and more simplified for them
Captain Indraani Singh, Founder, Literacy India (Pic: PR, FleishmanHillard)
The application was created with the help of Dell and it can be installed on standalone PCs and laptops and no internet connection is required to run the application. The application is provided to beneficiaries like NGOs and to government schools free of cost.
-The modules have been developed keeping in mind the understanding of children who are 5 years and above.
-The NCERT syllabus has been followed to develop the modules.
-The program ensures that each child covers topics required for his age and suitable as per his abilities.
-For each child, a specific syllabus can be assigned, based on his/ her pre-test.
-Special focus is put on subjects where the child seems to be weak.
-Dynamic in nature as it pops up a different set of questions for each practice.
-An inbuilt degree of difficulty as student progress with the assigned syllabus.
-Additional story-based feature for English learning.
GDD is based on the curriculum of LKG to Class V. GDD has been implemented and set up in more than 106 locations in 11 Indian States of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra. 8000 out-of-school children have been successfully mainstreamed into age-appropriate classes. Approximately 70,000 school-going /out-of-school children have shown dramatic improvement in learning levels.
"I remember one instance where a 14-year-old child who was a maid in someone's house. After GDD training, she is now appearing for a constable's job. Children have come up to us and told us that Government school teachers have a tendency to pre-judge the kids who come from a not well-to-do background and don't want to teach them. They would say things like you can't understand basics, and so these kids like GDD, they go through with the training and then go back to their classes," explains Indraani.
A digital dost for your child: GDD is based on the curriculum of LKG to Class V (Pic: PR, FleishmanHillard)
Training on the GDD application, assistance in installation or troubleshooting and periodic updates are also done free of cost. Students can learn from the GDD at a cost of Rs 1350 per child (in the first year) and the recurring cost is reduced to Rs 750 per child from the second year onwards. GDD is available in two languages — English and Hindi. It has also been uploaded on Cloud this year to engage volunteers to adopt children of the street and teach them.
"Recently, we have also added value education into the curriculum. There was one instance where a 10 or 11-year-old kid who started smoking, drinking, got into bad company, came into the GDD program with no knowledge of whatever he is supposed to learn at school at this age. However, when he went through the parts about alcohol abuse, he quit. We were all surprised that human intervention failed here, but the virtual teacher could make the child understand," concludes Indraani.