Tech-enabled Learning Centers bridge the digital divide in rural Odisha


By GV News Desk

14 July 2021

39 tech-enabled Learning Centres set up by Gram Vikas in remote habitations of Odisha are making continued education possible for first generation learners from Adivasi communities in Odisha. As schools continue to remain shut during the second wave of the pandemic prompting classes to be conducted online, these children are left behind due to the unavailability of digital learning resources. The technology-equipped Learning Centres in Gajapati, Ganjam, Kalahandi, and Keonjhar districts ensure that students of Classes IX and X do not drop out of the education system.

The Centres are in community buildings and private houses in remote habitations and villages for students of Classes IX and X. In Gramadebati village under the Jagannathprasad block of Ganjam district, Bidyadhar Jani, President of the Village Development Committee has voluntarily given a space in his house for developing a learning centre.

“The community hall gets flooded with water during the rain. There is no other place available, so I decided to allot space in my house for children to learn. After all, this concerns the future of our children,” says Bidyadhar.

Each of the Learning Centres are equipped with a Raspberry Pi, a single-board computer that plugs into a display board, and a projector to enable technology aided learning. Local volunteers, who are either Class 12 graduates or pursuing college education or with teaching experience, became para teachers.

Pratima Mallik, who used to work part-time in a private firm, is currently engaged as a para teacher at the Learning Center. She is teaching Maths, Science, and English to the students.

“My company was shut down in April this year due to the pandemic, and I was without work. I volunteered to teach students from my village Maths, Science, and English three hours every day for six days a week. This is helping them to clear their doubts even though schools continue to remain shut.”

Similarly, in the Nuagaon block of Nayagarh district, two learning centers are helping students of Classes IX and X. Chandini Behera, who was pursuing post-graduation in Berhampur University before the lockdown, has been engaged as a para teacher.

In Kuragadu village in Nuagaon block, Ashabati Pradhan has volunteered to help teach the students since the lockdown as the schools shut down indefinitely.

“Many children are first-generation learners who require support for clearing doubts and other clarifications. By teaching these students, it is also helping me improve the problem-solving ability for my competitive exams.”

Para teachers are trained to operate the devices and set up the sessions. Students learned by watching preloaded, curriculum based, audio visual lessons with additional explanations and guidance from the para teachers.

Field reporting by Prashant Kumar Naik, Gautam Rout, Mihir Kumar Bhuyan and Gaurav Mahapatra. 

Bankeswar Bagsing, a para teacher taking classes of the students at Patrapur Learning Centre.

Photograph by Ganesh Karjee


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