Schools

Blurring the digital divide

A boy showing his paintings based on School Ki Ghanti’s stories   | Photo Credit: School Ki Ghanti

Vedika Lall, an information designer was at her home in Patna, when the first round of lockdown was announced. Daughter of a private school principal, she saw her mother struggle with online classes and ways to keep the children engaged with studies.

It was then that the question of what happens to children who do not have access to the Internet or smartphones started bothering Vedika. She got in touch with some children-welfare NGOs in the city to find out the ground reality. “At that moment, supplying food and sanitisation products was their priority. No one was working on the education of underprivileged kids,” says Vedika.

This led to the inception of School Ki Ghanti, an initiative to educate underprivileged children aged six-12 years over a call. Shunning the traditional ways of learning that are limited to textbooks, the initiative uses storytelling as a tool to teach children a variety of concepts that span from addition, subtraction and formation of thunder to good habits and moral values.

“The idea is to keep underprivileged kids in touch with their studies but in a fun and creative way. We use Integrated Voice Response (IVR) System to connect with the children and narrate the stories. But before sending out the calls, the stories are recorded by our volunteers and then edited and peppered with sound effects to make it appealing for the kids,” says Vedika.

What started with 40 listeners on May 4 has now expanded its reach to over 340 children in five cities- Patna, Delhi, Raipur, Ranchi and Jaipur. “The calls go out at 4 pm every day from Monday to Friday. Each day has a specific topic on which the story will be based. Our routine currently has the subjects - Environment, Math, good habits, moral values and humour.”

Initially, the team borrowed tales from Pratham Books and StoryWeaver, digital repository of stories. Over the time, they collaborated with other organisations like Delhi-based Katha and Kolkata-based The Makers Collaborative to incorporate more stories. “Till date we have narrated over 80 stories. We have virtual celebrations planned for the day when we broadcast our 100th story,” says Vedika.

School Ki Ghanti uses Integrated Voice Response System to reach out to kids

School Ki Ghanti uses Integrated Voice Response System to reach out to kids   | Photo Credit: School Ki Ghanti

Nikita Choudhary, a Delhi-based school teacher has been associated with this initiative from the beginning. She is one of the 30 volunteers who records stories for School Ki Ghanti. With a decade long work experience as a primary school teacher, Nikita believes that storytelling is a great way of introducing new concepts to the kids. “Our age-old practice of storytelling is very effective as it encourages children to imagine and also improves their language skills. At School ki Ghanti, each story is around three to six minutes long. And since we do not have the aid of props, we emphasise on using voice modulation to have the attention of the kids. Sound effects are also added to make it more fun. At the end of every session we also give them a fun activity so that the whole initiative does not remain one-way,” she says.

Several kids who are a regular listener of School Ki Ghanti have been sketching their favourite stories or writing their own tales. A collection of these paintings is available online on the website of The Museum of Goa.

Spreading out

Currently, the initiative offers stories only in Hindi but are now looking to expand in other languages. “We are soon venturing into Karnataka and the process of recording stories in Kannada has started. Once the stories are recorded by our volunteers they will be sent to a child psychologist and educators who will approve them. It will then be broadcast to the kids,” says Vedika.

You can reach out to the organisation at www.schoolkighanti.org


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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 12:30:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/schools/school-ki-ghanti-educates-kids-through-storytelling-over-a-phone-call/article32445939.ece

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