When India sends an orbiter to Mars, what becomes synonymous with the trip is the image of women scientists in sarees with flowers in their hair celebrating their feat. The image remains embedded in our heads, because we hardly get to see women in tech and hence, some of these achievements become celebration-worthy.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM education is the first step to ensure an increase in the pool of girls and women in tech. One of the ways to do it is to integrate technology in the day-to-day learning and teaching.
To drive this, the Integrated approach to Technology in Education (ITE) was started by TataTrusts, and later on resourced by Tata Institute of Social Studies. It was first piloted in May 2012 at Street Survivors India (SSI), at their four supplementary rural learning centres for adolescents in four villages in Kandi block of Murshidabad district in West Bengal. Since 2012, the trusts, with the support of their 12 partners, have reached out to around 10,000 children through the ITE projects.
Initiating and scaling the ITE in rural areas and urban slums is Amina Charania, Senior Programme Officer at Tata Trusts and Adjunct Associate Professor at Centre for Education Innovation and Action Research (CEIAR), TISS. Amina brings her expertise to this role from her previous role at the Iowa State University Center for Technology in Learning and Teaching too.
We spoke with Amina to understand how technology is being integrated in the curriculums and how the projects that ITE is conducting is helping young children, especially girls, get empowered with tech education.
|ITE classes at the Garden Reach centre|
“After the contact trainings, teachers are provided continued professional support through online forums and field visits and local cluster-level workshops.”
As regards infrastructure support in the government schools, the existing infrastructure is repaired by the implementation partners to make it ready for ITE.
|Naba Disha, an ITE trainer, taking ITE sessions with government school students|
Amina shares a few case studies with us. Salma (name changed), a 10-year-old girl from Narikutchi in Assam's Nalbari district, was on the verge of dropping out of Class V due to various personal and economic factors some three years ago. Implementation partner of IET in Assam, GVM, took her into their adolescent education programme, a six-month camp where she was taught the importance of education and standing on her own feet. Today she knows PowerPoint, Excel, Scratch, and due to her performance has been promoted to Class VII.
Yet another example that Amina shares is of Malti (name changed), an ITE teacher at Suchana, Birbhum in West Bengal, who has been working with Santhal and Kora children and youth. Malti appeared for ITE teacher interview and was asked if she was willing to drive. Malti replied, “I have never seen a car from inside.” Suchana trained Malti to dive ITE van, and ITE training made her one of the finest ICT-enabled teachers, and one of the first women drivers from her tribe in the district.
“Today, she turns a lot of heads around when she drives the ITE van, confidence and self-respect beams through her eyes when she narrates her ITE journey at Suchana,” says Amina.
Impact: creation and measurement
According to Amina, they have seen improved participation by parents, and a visible expression of students’ creativity, collaboration, and analytical reasoning and digital citizenship skills in teachers and students.
Amina says, “We have also seen an impact on student attendance and learning process; they have become more confident. Education has empowered them, especially since many come from under-represented communities, such as tribal, madrasas and slum areas, and have never touched PCs or other gadgets.”
ITE has also given students real-life experiences. Referring to a community project about the river in Khanjanpur, Amina says,
“The community project in Suchana also contributed to raising awareness about the lost culture and environmental change among people in the village: they started working on reviving and preserving the lost culture.”
Students from marginalised communities who did not have access to tech gadgets and technology are now digitally literate, developing problem-solving skills and analytics mindset. Though religious, social and economic divide might separate them, digitally they stand tall and confident because technology has empowered them. This small step will empower them to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Info courtesy: https://yourstory.com/2017/05/technology-education-ite/