Digital deprivation no hindrance to learning

VLCs helping students having no access to the Net keep pace with their academic lessons

July 10, 2021 11:44 pm | Updated 11:44 pm IST - VIJAYAWADA

Children attending classes at a Village Learning Circle, at Balayogi Gurukulam at Tadikonda in Guntur district.

Children attending classes at a Village Learning Circle, at Balayogi Gurukulam at Tadikonda in Guntur district.

Adapt, adopt and evolve had been the catchwords of the lockdown period that disrupted the normal course in every sector, and education was no exception.

Schools were shut down and teachers and learners moved to the online space to remain in touch with their academic curriculum.

The large number of students who did not have access to the smartphones and regular access to the Internet data were at risk of losing touch with their academic lessons.

Peer learning

To beat this digital deprivation, the A.P. Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (APSWREIS) hit upon the idea of Village Learning Circle (VLC).

“It’s a study circle of the students by the students and for the students from within a local community or a village, based on the concept of peer learning, wherein senior students help their juniors in learning by constituting small groups,” explained B. Navya, Secretary of the society.

Since almost 50% of the students in the social welfare schools did not have access to technology, it was important for the society to think innovative and reach out to them with a solution.

“We introduced the VLC model on July 1. It is already paying dividends,” she said, informing that the 26 Balayogi Gurukulams in the State had established 150 VLCs.

“We intend to replicate the models in other schools and penetrate deeper into the villages, reaching out to more number of students,” she said.

Role for alumni

The society has also roped in the alumni of the schools residing in the locality to help the children with the support of teachers, who guide them wherever necessary and provide relevant study material.

The principals of the schools identified for setting up VLCs take up an important role.

They identify villages with more than three students to form a VLC, map the students to the villages, identify a class leader, alumni and map them to the village volunteer.

A VLC WhatsApp group is formed to share time table and day-wise content to be studied.

The teachers finalise grade-wise content with the help of other teachers in their school and, initially, a two-week schedule is provided for each class. This is extended gradually.

Wherever and whenever possible, a teacher is assigned the task of visiting the village to provide support and guidance in the initial stage, and the VLCs function under regular monitoring of aspects related to COVID-appropriate behaviour, safety, hygiene, ventilation and water provision.

“The principals have also been asked to ensure a fun-filled and joyful learning atmosphere,” said Ms. Navya.

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