Suvidya Foundation has been conducting its EducateZilla program in rural government schools in Karnataka since 2013-14 on its own as well as through partner NGOs. The program promotes self-learning and peer driven learning in children using tablets. Each tablet contains a software suite with a Textbook-on-tablet app which presents the content of the textbook that is prescribed by the Karnataka state board, in an interactive manner making learning fun. The Textbook-on-tablet contains enriched curricular content for English and Mathematics in Kannada medium for 5th, 6th and 7th standards along with a large question bank for each chapter to drive children to master the subject through constant practice. The software is designed to adapt to the learning ability of each child facilitating learning at an individual pace. It is augmented by a number of scholastic games such as Math basic operations game, English word games (including a Spelling Bee game) and Kannada word game to break the monotony of curricular learning. The app tracks the performance of each child in the class and provides reports that are easy to view. This helps teachers understand the strengths of each child and focus on improving them further.
The EducateZilla program is being run at selected schools in several taluks over many years now. The program does not require the schools to bear any costs for tablets, software, content or any training. Suvidya Foundation provides tablets to schools and the required training to use the Textbook-on-tablet app and the associated enriched curricular content. Suvidya Foundation also takes the responsibility of repair/service or even replacing those tablets with newer models when required. Suvidya Foundation hires and trains local graduates to mentor the children at schools and ensure smooth running of the program by managing the tablets and periodically updating the software and the content. In order to motivate the children further, at the end of each year the highest performers in those schools are awarded prizes and the teachers/schools that are actively participating are also recognized. Given the various costs involved, Suvidya Foundation spends lakhs of rupees on the selected schools. In order to make sure that such a huge investment is properly utilized at schools and the impact of the program can be measured objectively, Suvidya Foundation selects the schools based on many criteria such as availability of basic infrastructure in the school such as electricity, the number of children, the number of teachers and the interest shown by teachers to actively participate in the program. It is essential for the children to have enough free time during the school hours for tablet based learning to augment classroom learning. It is important to select a group of at least 5-10 such schools in a given neighborhood for optimal use of Suvidya's mentor resources.
In 2018-19 the EducateZilla program benefited a total of 32 rural government schools in Kanakapura and Sira Taluks and a few schools run by partner NGOs. Children from 5th-7th enjoyed the curricular content while all the children from 3rd through 8th benefited from the scholastic games. Some of the highlights of the program from 2018-19 are:
Encouraged by the positive outcome of the EducateZilla program so far, Suvidya Foundation plans to extend the program to more schools in the future. It plans to enable at least two new NGOs per year in Karnataka to use this technology and content to benefit children at schools in their region. Suvidya foundation also plans to add content for at least one more standard each year in Kannada medium for Karnataka state board syllabus. Further, Suvidya Foundation aims to partner with NGOs in other states to increase the reach of this technology to rural schools pan India.