A computer training programme in rural Rajasthan has helped to check student dropout rates

An initiative for enhancing the comfort levels of children and teachers for using computers at the pre-school level has helped bridge the digital divide in the rural landscape of Alwar district in Rajasthan; it has brought children back to schools, leading to a significant reduction in the dropout rates.

The programme, launched by IBM in partnership with SRF Foundation, is running at a dozen Kid Smart centres in Alwar. The centres have 79 “Young Explorer” (YE) units deployed, reaching approximately 4,000 students, and training about 85 teachers. The teachers are a mix of government teachers, volunteers and anganwadi teachers.

Every year, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) is signed between IBM, SRF Foundation, SRF Chemical Business and the Rajasthan government’s Department of Elementary Education for rollout of the Kid Smart programme. Last year marked the entry of Reinventing Education (RE) in Rajasthan in a collaboration signed between IBM and Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, Jaipur Region, for five Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.

The Pratham Foundation, in partnership with IBM and the State government, provides Kid Smart programme’s technology, software and training to pre-schools, elementary schools and after-school segments, serving children in the 3-10 years age group. The programme has provided technology for YE leaning centres and teachers’ training to enhance teaching and learning in the government primary schools located in rural areas.

Mamtha Sharma, IBM’s Country Manager (Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs), says that the “three-corner concept” of the Kid Smart programme helps children learn their subjects better by using different learning methodologies such as technology, reading and craft, combining both the high technologies as well as low technology methods of imparting education. The centres make learning and teaching more effective for students and teachers belonging to the weaker socio-economic communities, she adds.