How The Online Volunteering Community Is Transforming Education In India: eVidyaloka
A BBC correspondent goes deep into the forests of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu and finds a more majestic entity than the tiger- a cluster of students learning around a computer, with a teacher teaching them LIVE from 7000 miles away in New Zealand! This is eVidyaloka.
Anand, an IT Engineer at Microsoft, believes that a problem in India’s education system is that there may be a gap between those who are required to teach computer science in rural schools and those who are excellent at using complex computer applications professionally. This is why he is a volunteer computer science teacher at eVidyaloka.
Radha Ganti, who is otherwise not a professional teacher, has found her name in the ‘Vol (read: ‘Hall’) of Fame’ for teaching at eVidyaloka, with the highest rate of class completion!
What is eVidyaloka?
eVidyaloka is an NGO in India that was founded with the aim to transform education in rural India. eVidyaloka recognises that in many parts of rural India, there is a dearth in the number of teachers at schools and student’s learning outcomes are majorly suffering due to this. To solve this problem, eVidyaloka creates ‘digital classrooms’ in remote villages in India, providing them with IT infrastructure that can bring a volunteer digital teacher into the classroom from anywhere in the world. The organisation selects the teachers by a rigorous process and also has standardised lessons templates and toolkits to help the volunteer teacher deliver consistent, high quality education to children in very remote villages of India.
How are volunteers at eVidyaloka transforming education in India?
Volunteer teachers take 2 classes per week, teaching English, Maths and Science to students of secondary school (grade 5-8), using the student’s local language. The rationale for selecting this group of students is that the learning outcomes in this group in India is very low- around a whopping 50% of students drop out from school between the 5th to 8th grades, 54% of grade 5 students cannot read a grade 2 text and 73% are unable to do simple math calculations. The volunteer ‘teachers’ may not only hold class lessons, but can also volunteer to create academic content for classes, or be an administrator of classroom lessons. Their passions and strengths guide them to fit into the needs of the ‘digital classrooms’.
What is the impact created by the volunteer community at eVidyaloka?
With the above innovative and inclusive education program, eVidyaloka and its 1600+ volunteers have improved the school attendance rates, as well as the learning outcomes of over 19000 students in India, with more than 2 million hours of study! This means that each minute and hour dedicated by passionate volunteers have collectively changed the future of children most in need.
Today, grassroots volunteering at remote places to benefit marginalised communities, is no longer far from reach and in fact, can be done from right inside most of our homes. Let us log in and be helpful to those in the world that may value our passion, strengths and time the most!