To realize the right to education to create a progressive nation, SDGs have drawn a roadmap to transform education and promote the well-being of society. With the commitment of “leaving no one behind”, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the universal Agenda – ‘Envision 2030’ for Sustainable Development, articulated in a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015. Positioned as a key feature to transform education, the SDG-4 aims at, “Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” The SDGs provides opportunity to bring education at the centre of economic growth.
Many organisations have joined hands to make this vision enshrined in SDGs a reality. Yuva Unstoppable (Yu, or Yuva) is one such non-governmental organisation (NGO), dedicated to the goal of SDG-4. It aims to anchor, guide and transform SDG goals in education. Breaking the stereotypes, the project aims to inspire the world for a better tomorrow by making a difference in the lives of children at the bottom of the pyramid. Today, Yuva Unstoppable, living true to its name, has become a movement – a force committed to shatter the boundaries of social inequality and build a tangible roadmap for advancement of the society. This case study captures in brief the strategies and achievements of its initiatives in ushering in a transformation in providing digital education advantage to over 6,00,000 underprivileged children across 14 states of India.
Yuva Unstoppable and SDG-4
In the year 2013, Yuva decided to prioritise projects on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools. Yuva expanded its programme in 2017 to include enhanced learning outcomes for the students. In collaboration with IT partners, it worked to create Digital Classrooms in 850 schools in India, as a part of the School Transformation Programme. By introducing innovative technologies such as the K-Yan into schools, YU has worked to increase the quality of education being imparted in the schools. By integrating technology with the school curriculum, the smart classroom empowers teachers to be able to deliver higher quality education. With the passion to spread kindness, YU serves the educational and social needs of children in India.
K-Yan Transforming the Education Space
The centrepiece of the YU digital classroom project is the K-Yan, a Knowledge Vehicle technology, developed in collaboration with IIT Bombay and Schoolnet India Limited. A protean device, K-Yan combines a hi-tech projector with a PC, a DVD writer, a TV tuner, in-built speakers, a 500 GB HDD, 3G-Internet, a wireless keyboard and a mouse in one box with a single wire connectivity to become a convenient group learning tool. This allows an easy conversion of traditional classrooms into digital classrooms. It converts any flat wall into an interactive teaching surface, on which one can write, draw and highlight teaching-learning content. The installation of the K-Yan requires no additional infrastructure and serves as a powerful group-learning tool.
This Smart Classroom model, as a low-cost solution, combines with the Google Future Classroom (GFC), another transformative educational solution. Both programmes include the K-Yan, refurbishment of the classroom, a three- day training workshop with the teachers, support with administration, monitoring and evaluation. The GFC, in addition, includes the provision of Google Chrome Notebooks to all students in the class, and assigns a Google Trainer to the school to facilitate the adoption and use of these technologies in the classroom.
Making significant strides in Digital Learning
For the evaluation of the outcomes of this digital classroom project, a sample survey was conducted in 2017-2018 across 156 schools that were engaged with Yuva Unstoppable. The data is taken from students in grades 6, 7 and 8, in schools that are based in Gujarat, M.P., Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Most of these schools (64%) were from Gujarat, while 16% are based in Maharashtra.
Out of these 156 schools, 49 were control schools, for which the data was derived before YU made any interventions. They provide a reference for comparison with the schools where YU has implemented any program. For the 107 schools in the sample where YU has made an intervention, 83 received both the Smart Classroom (SC) and WASH intervention. The WASH intervention, however, was implemented before the scope of the data collected in this study. The remaining 24 schools received only the Smart Classroom, without the WASH facilities. The outcomes include figures for enrolment, attendance, and test results from the exams the students take as part of their curriculum
The control group showed a 4.4% increase in student enrolment, on an average. Schools with SC-only intervention registered a 15.9% rise. In schools with both SC and Wash, increase in enrolment was at 14.4%. This suggests that Smart Classrooms have a clear positive impact on enrolment.
Looking at the data from grades 6, 7 and 8; for the schools in the Control group, the increase in attendance over the period is between 3.4-3.5 % for all grades. The schools in the Smart Classroom-only programme show an increase in attendance of roughly 14%. The schools in SC + Wash group show the highest increase in attendance (around 16%).
Test Results Outcomes
The quantitative data shows a clear increase in all the indicators that were measured. The following qualitative observations were made to understand the nature of the improvement that has occurred through the smart classroom.
1.Technological aids improved lesson delivery.
2.Use of interactive multimedia increased student engagement.
3.Exposure to new technologies helped the teachers to build technological capacities.
4.Use of interactive tools improved student’s ability and pace to grasp concepts and lead to improved learning outcomes.
5.Use of multimedia, web and smart class improved student’s engagement and their ability to understand difficult concepts.
6.Use of multimedia boosted student’s motivation to attend school.
7.Smart classrooms eliminated the need for tedious note- taking by students while they engage with the teacher explanations.
In conclusion, YU intervention has provided yet another evidence that digital education can fundamentally transform education delivery with the right mix of technology, content and a sensitive approach. It shows that a model based on lifelong learning with an emphasis on critical thinking, collaboration and flexibility alongside can provide access to quality digital education to disadvantaged children and contribute greatly to inclusion and towards achieving SDG-4.