Solar Digital Night Schools by DST, Barefoot College bring 1,000 rural students back to formal education

New Delhi: Mangalchand from Tilonia village of Ajmer district in Rajasthan grazed cattle for a living. He had also developed the bad habit of consuming drugs and intoxicants. In the same State, Barefoot College in Tilonia, one of the Core Groups under SEED Division of Department of Science & Technology (DST), has been running a night school for the education of children deprived of education. Kana Ram Soni and Ratan are teachers in that night school. On their advice, Mangalchand enrolled in the school and studied till Class V. Thereafter, he attended 6 months of motor winding training at the Barefoot’s extension and training center at Kotri.

Today, Mangalchand owns a shop in Tilonia, where he works with electric motors used to pump water, electric motors for fan, coolers and grain grinders, and services old electric motors and light fitting work in the remaining time. After studying in the night school, he was able to understand day to day financial transaction with ease and earns Rs 10,000 to 15,000 per month from the shop. He has given up the urge to consume drugs and gives priority to his children’s education now.

Barefoot college has brought around 1,000 children, who otherwise would not have gone to day school, into a formal education system through their Solar Digital Night School model. Around 57% of these students are girls, a majority of whom are under 15 years old.

SOLARD2 | Indus Dictum
Digital night school teacher taking class with Edu-Box

The Solar Digital Night School model is a complete solution for quality digital non-formal education for remote off grid underprivileged communities and is a direct response to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of Quality Education for All, and Renewable Energy.

This model covers an integrated rural Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) curriculum with a pro-girl approach focusing on environment, rights awareness, leadership, and health, with localised content crucial for the UN SDG of gender equality & reduced inequalities.

The model is usable in off-grid, offline spaces, and is field tested for easy user interface. Additionally, it comes with a phased digital integration plan which allows digitally novice users sufficient time to get comfortable with the devices, thereby ensuring that they are keen on utilising them regularly rather than being intimidated by them.

The model developed by Barefoot College uses solar-powered projectors with offline servers developed under core support to provide better hands on education to children in rural schools all around India.

The Barefoot inhouse assembled Solar Powered Projector is small and compact, packed with all necessary education tools. As a movable edu-box, it is highly versatile as it can work with several media (tablet, laptop, or mobile phones). It provides access to over 50 individual nodes at any time, and can be used for both online and offline activities. Its unique feature of per-child tracking of learning levels gives it a huge competitive advantage.

Solar Digital Night Schools by DST Barefoot College edu box complete kir | Indus Dictum
Edu-Box the complete kit

It is also an easy-to-use, one-switch solution to transform a community space into a digital classroom wirelessly paired with tablets which allows teachers the freedom of movement, engagement, and seamless interaction, without the requirement of any digital experience or training. The emphasis of teachers has been on learning by doing.

An offline router with curated content is preloaded, which simulates an offline ‘internet’ for children (as well as village adults) to browse through. The digital aids therefore openly disseminate a practically unlimited amount of content to these communities, providing them never-before access to visual media and information.

Currently, 27 schools are operational spanning the states of Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Manipur and Karnataka. The program follows a local to national to global approach covering 10 states outside Rajasthan and abroad (Malawi and Myanmar) as well.

Since the inception of the Digital Night School model, more than 40% of children have been integrated back into state secondary schools, while others have taken many roles in the community such as electricians, businessmen, and mobiles shop workers, as evident in the case of Mangalchand.

This information was provided by the Communications Team at the Dept. of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology.

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The ID Staff

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