Within 6 weeks of the state-wide roll-out, over 11 lakh students of Grades 1-10 have started practising the weekly assessments and home learning activities under the Swadhyay (WhatsApp based) program by the Government of Maharashtra & SCERT Maharashtra. With the affordability and accessibility of Whatsapp based assessments and personalized learning under Swadhyay, students now have asynchronous access to online education.
Swadhyay program was launched by the Hon’ble School Education Minister of Maharashtra, Varsha Gaikwad, on 3rd November 2020 in partnership with ConveGenius, India’s leading EdTech social enterprise, and Leadership For Equity (LFE), an education systems change organization working with the state government. The overall management of the program is led by SCERT Maharashtra. The event was highly monumental for lakhs of students in Maharashtra, as in the times of pandemic online education for many had become adversity in itself. The event was also graced by the attendance of the Additional Chief Secretary Mrs. Vandana Krishna, Education Commissioner Mr. Vishal Solanki, other education department dignitaries of SCERT, district officers from all Zilla Parishads & DIETs. The program is specially intended to support students from low-income families and students studying in government and aided schools to provide high-quality digital learning with minimal cost, and use evidence and data to prepare the teachers for remedial teaching in the real/virtual classrooms.
In a discussion with a class 7th class student, Poorva Jambulkar, from Higher Primary school, Parasodi, District Gondia about her experience using this innovative method of learning, she said, “For most of the pandemic, we had to rely on Youtube as we could not meet our teachers. But learning through Swadhyay is easier, barely costs us anything and the videos solve most of our doubts. Me and my sister and my three friends who leave nearby have been using one phone and allotted time durations to study from Swadhyay using our father’s phone. The weekly tests were initially daunting but as I took the assignments, each result became a target to cross the next time and hence, a great motivation for me to learn. We enjoy these classes because of the animation and its simplicity”.
“Most of our students belong to daily wage-earning families. Expecting them to attend video calls for live classes was far fetched. Some of these families do not even own a single smartphone. I used to visit the colony of my students once a week to teach them earlier during the pandemic. However, they had not much to do for the rest of the days and were lagging behind. But with Whatsapp learning into the picture, things are much better now. The students who have a smartphone at home practice their lessons through it. I gave one of my own spare smartphones to those who don’t, which rotates around 6 households, i.e. 15 children during the entire week and I visit them on Sunday to solve their doubts”, says a teacher from a government school in Nasik.
A community leader Mr. Pintu Chavhan, Perle, Block Karad, District Satara, shared his experience promoting Swadhyay, “Here, most of the people are illiterate. They cannot even use a smartphone, let alone help attend an online class. During the early months of the pandemic, we convinced the educated lot in our community to help the children continue their studies. However, there was only enough that we could do. But as we were introduced to these Swadhyay classes, we don’t have to worry about learning the subjects ourselves. Now, the community has a class every day for an hour and wherever the students get stuck, their teachers are always available to help them”.
“Even during school closures, we have tried to take education to as many students as possible through offline and online means but we were not sure how much students were learning. Weekly assessments under Swadhyay would solve that problem and teachers will now know how much students have learned and where they need help,” added Mr. Anand Palase, Block Education officer, Satara.
The Swadhyay initiative has also integrated UDISE Code based student registration, which will allow for automated student-wise and topic-wise reports to be sent to teachers on a weekly basis. This useful integration will help teachers in monitoring the learning levels of their students very easily and thus identify ways to support them through various means, virtually or physically. Cloudstrats Inc, a Maharashtra based cloud services company will be assisting solution integration to make the initiative sustainable in Maharashtra.
With the support of SCERT Maharashtra, content for Urdu medium, new subjects like Science and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) will also be added in the coming weeks to ensure holistic education for students, beyond Foundational Literacy & Numeracy.
Swadhyay makes every home a class and every community a school. And as they say, it truly takes a village to raise a child.