Published: 14th July 2021
How Project 511 is digitally transforming classrooms in 500 govt schools in Telangana by 2023
Project 511 is looking to bring equity in public school education by converting government school classrooms into centres for holistic digital learning. Their target? 500 schools in three years
The facts are there for all to see. For over a year now, a good number of students from government schools have been forced away from education, and, as some activists claim, back into the regressive practices of child labour and child marriage, all thanks to the socio-economic woes bestowed by the pandemic.
However, for Hyderabad Round Table Eight’s Project 511, the idea of equipping government schools in Telangana with digital learning was an idea born two years ago in 2019. “We decided to reimagine education. In 2003, we launched this project to adopt and refurbish government schools with basic amenities that provide dignity to learning, such as blackboards, science labs, benches and toilets. For that purpose, we had recognised 511 schools, thus, the name,” says CEO of the project, Preeti Philip.
The project has partnered with EdTech companies that are creating dynamic tools for better teaching
The Digital Learning Programme (DLP) was launched in February this year, with the belief that digital technology is a prerequisite for learning. It began by converting one classroom each in three government schools in Hyderabad into full-fledged digital classrooms, equipped with internet, a projector, speakers, laptop for teachers, and a whiteboard. According to their estimates, it takes roughly two lakh to convert a classroom. “The idea initially was to target one classroom per school, for high school pupils. But through research and experience, we have realised that we need three to four classrooms per school, because we want to expose primary school children to the technology too, so they aren’t caught unawares by it at the crucial board exam stage,” Preeti says.
The long term goal across three years is to target nearly five hundred schools. The DLP isn’t just plug and play, however, according to Preeti. She says they are working on training teachers to utilise these tools to better teach their students the assigned syllabus. “The teachers in the current system simply don’t have the time to improvise and innovate with their methods of teaching. They are overburdened by the sheer extent of the syllabus, and are pressurised to finish it in time. Digital tools will hopefully help simplify the process for them,” believes Preeti.
The goal that drives the organisation to pursue this ambitious project is to see government school children on par with the private school kids. “Also in the works is the School of Excellence initiative where we are going to convert existing government schools, or build new government schools that match international standards,” says Chairman of the project’s governing council, Vivek Chandrashekar.
Team Project 511
Ask Preeti how she plans on measuring the impact of a project of this scale and she says she isn’t looking at annual numbers. “The kids will adhere to it immediately, but for us to measure the results of the programme, we need to give it two or three years to arrive at the impact that we wish to see. We are looking at their year-on-year growth, and we want to see what careers they’ve chosen for themselves at the end of their schooling. That is how we can gauge the results of this undertaking,” Preeti insists.
Vivek shares that they have partnered with a few EdTech companies that help digitise the syllabus so kids and teachers are not stuck with just textbooks. They also have a company on board to handle skill development, and extracurricular activities.
From erecting school buildings back in 2002, to constructing the careers of students, the project has come a long way in the methods it has taken to introduce parity in the education system in the state. The project currently works with 1311 schools in 11 districts, and is in plans to create at least five holistic model government schools in the next three years.