The foundation years of education are also the most crucial ones. It incubates the next generation of leaders, thinkers and innovators. The challenge before the primary school educators is to develop such pedagogical methods and strategies that children grow into independent thinkers. Primary and secondary education in India can be broadly divided into three categories:
a. Publicly funded government schools,
b. Privately established for profit schools, and
c. Budget Schools, which are privately managed and charge small fees, which barely cover their running expenses. Our focus is on the budget schools, especially those in the rural areas, which serve a large section of the society. The schools and parents aspire to deliver the best to the children, yet the lack of resources and the apathy of the system are major obstacles they face. Gurukulplex, a social purpose business unit of Crescent Gurukul Limited, endeavours to help the schools and parents realize their aspirations. We, at Gurukulplex believe that all the stakeholders should be involved to make this happen. To start with, our effort is to bring the parents, teachers and the school administration on a common platform, where they can benefit from the advancement of technology. To achieve this goal, we have developed an app, which is powered by artificial intelligence and worksheets based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. Our years of experience in education field give us understanding and reach deep into the rural areas. Our network of computer centers across Uttar Pradesh provides technical and logistical support needed by the schools.
The session 2020-21 was badly affected by COVID-19. Most of the budget schools, especially in the rural areas could not cope with this unprecedented challenge. There is economical as well as digital divide between the rich and the poor populations of India. Those in better financial conditions also had better resources to overcome the challenges presented by lockdown and different problems that followed it. Children from weaker backgrounds had the situation further aggravated against them because most of them were first generation learners, and no one to educate or guide them in their homes or neighborhoods. They also lacked access to mobile devices; some had to share with siblings or cousins. Poverty in India, especially during and after the pandemic can be divided into two categories:
1. One is stark and in your face type, and
2. The other is concealed one, veiled behind the self-respect of hard-working people who have never extended their hands before others. People who had small but regular incomes, their livelihoods got destroyed by the pandemic. They have aspirations to get their children education which they themselves lack. The system doesn’t favour the weak and the poor. These hard-working, self-respecting people have great self-esteem and they do not accept charity and quality is kept beyond their reach. There are apps, websites and channels, which are free for students, but the schools could not share this information to the parents because they were themselves not much aware of it. So, the children were trapped in a system that delivers very little, that too to a select few.
“Drastic times call for drastic measures”. To tackle this extraordinary situation, Crescent Gurukul Limited tried to find a solution. It was concluded that a mobile app and worksheets could plug the loopholes existing in the current system and benefit many students, especially those who live in small towns or rural areas.
This app harnesses the power of Artificial Intelligence to aid the school administration as well as teaching staff. Assessment and recommendation engines not only evaluate the students’ progress and suggest the further learning resources, but also generate students report for the parents, teachers and school principals. The support team at Gurukulplex also suggests parents, teachers and principals from time to time to adopt newer pedagogical practices. We expect that within a period of a year or two most schools would have adopted the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) set out by Gurukulplex. The hand holding process will take the schools away from their usual methods and help them adopt modern techniques to benefit the students. Apart from AI, students will also get access to Instructor led videos, presentation-based videos and 2D and 3D animation videos.
1. Instructor led videos are video-in-video, where full screen plays a presentation and the instructor is in a video box (PIP mode).
2. Presentation based videos cover most of the private publishers and have automated voice-overs in different English accents, so the students can learn these accents at an early stage and this will open an inexhaustible supply of free resources, especially on platforms like YouTube.
3. Animated videos- The most powerful way to clear a difficult concept, is to explain it in an interesting way. Animated videos are very powerful tool and they are also very expensive, time consuming and difficult to produce.
The App is of very nominal price for the students, and have two models:
1. Where the school of the student uses Gurukulplex platform, and
2. Where the student’s school is not attached with Gurukulplex.
In first case the user will get to get the videos and attempt some quizzes, the results will be shared through links sent over SMSes, such users could add up to 4 other users. In second case, the users will get many other benefits apart from the videos and quizzes. Like their school records will be available under download button, their quizzes will be analyzed by an assessment engine and a recommendation engine will suggest them further videos, e-books and quizzes. Their parents and school teachers will get WhatsApp messages, recommendations and evaluation at personal level, so the parents and teachers could identify and address the problem areas.
The Worksheets are based on Bloom’s Taxonomy and mapped to NCERT syllabus. They are designed to develop higher order thinking skills among students. Identifying and developing a child’s true potential is a complicated task. These worksheets not only find out how much a child knows, but also measure how well a student has understood the concepts. The students should comprehend day to day information conclusively and use it as and when required. The students will develop their communication skills and learn the use of numbers, figures, statistics and facts and be able to present them in a logical manner. The students will be able to present and create opinions and make sound judgments, and ultimately become independent thinkers, who could bring positive changes and work for the betterment of the society.
There are inexhaustible resources freely available on the internet, which students can benefit from, if they know the right keywords and have some familiarity with different accents. Our objective is to make quality education available at budget schools. A comprehensive system will be put in place, where the schools will have a schedule planned to cover the syllabus, their delivery monitored through different tools and assistance will be provided from Gurukulplex, if and when any problem area is identified.
Crescent Gurukul Limited has an existing network of 250+ franchisee centers which are known by the brand name Gurukul Universal. These existing centers and additional new franchises will be entrusted with the task to promote the app among the schools in their vicinity.