BENGALURU: The quality of education in rural areas of the state and across the country is under the scanner after many studies indicated that the system has failed miserably. Trying to scale over such issues in the state with the prime focus being rural areas, the Bengaluru-based education firm ‘Connecting the Dots’ (CTD) aims to address issues of skill deficit and non-competency at the grassroots level.
Providing a practical, innovative and hands-on approach in science and maths for school students and equipping aspiring teachers with innovative methods of teaching is what the CTD is trying to implement among 6,000 students and 1,300 teachers at 34 schools in the state. “Experiential learning (in simpler ways, demonstrating the concept for the students), encouraging practical application and connecting the concept to a real-life situation creates a longing impact with a high retention rate in young minds,” says Rajesh Rao, CEO & MD of CTD. He stresses that making maths and science ‘accessible’ is the major hurdle modern education in rural areas should overcome.
CTD is reaching its programmes to students in government schools, aided schools, affordable private schools, those in smaller towns and also students from Kannada medium schools. On the virtual learning method advocated by CTD to make lessons relevant for the 21st century, Mr Rao explains why concepts should not be taught in isolation as it is being done by even better off schools in the country. “A story-telling approach and connecting concepts across disciplines will equip children to logically understand a lesson rather than merely memorising it. Encouraging and training teachers to facilitate this (across languages) is equally important,” he says.
As a vindication of their effort, the attendance at government schools in Koujageri village (near Gadag) and a disengaged government high school near Mysuru has seen a rise after the introduction of this novel method of learning.
From in-depth research and case studies, CTD also realised that training teachers as facilitators of ICT (information and communication technology) and in advanced pedagogical methods was equally important to bridge the gap in reaching out to students. CTD has partnered with Infosys Science Foundation for the Gnanadeepa Teacher Training Programme since 2014 to train B.Ed students across seven locations in the state, including Belagavi, Hubballi, Mysuru and rural parts of Bengaluru. “Training pre-service teachers, who are willing to learn and be updated in pedagogical methods, has given positive results since we switched from in-service to to-be teachers,” he says. The training programmes equip teachers with tools and methodologies to explain concepts innovatively, encourage curiosity and promote experiential learning in classrooms.
Running an extra mile towards bettering the overall situation as compared to their counterparts, including NGOs and similar firms in the sector, CTD also helps government schools to reach out to corporate partners to tap Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds.
Mr Rao claims that CTD has designed an innovative approach to overcome economic inequalities, urban-rural divides and problems revolving around language of instruction. “As many as 18 out of the 45-member core team of facilitators in our group are native Kannada speakers. They are breaking such barriers, connecting the dots at every level,” he said.
Born out of a deep faith to jump the hurdle of ‘exam-oriented approach’ in the education sector, the innovators are at present working towards their 2020 goal of reaching 2 million students and 20,000 teachers across the country....