This Startup Is Using Simple Tech To Teach Children In Remote Villages

23/05/2016 12:28 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
Anna Henly via Getty Images
Indian schoolchildren doing their schoolwork in the classroom at their poor village school outside Bandhavgarh National Park. Children of all ages sit on the floor to do their lessons.

The Sampark foundation, which is dedicated to helping children access quality education, is making use of simple audio technology to help educate children in remote Indian villages.

The foundation distributes an interactive kit with various learning aids to help teachers teach in an engaging manner. The kit comprises a device called Sampark Didi, that looks like a portable radio transistor. Sampark has an LCD panel, control buttons, a speaker set and a MicroSD card pre-loaded with lessons.

Sampark foundation from Sampark Foundation on Vimeo.

The aim behind introducing Sampark Didi is to tell children stories that would also serve as lessons for them. For instance, Sampark Didi narrates the story of Bhagat Singh to children. At the end of the story, the teacher can ask the children mathematics questions with the help of an interactive timeline. Say, if Bhagat Singh is at position 6 and the police at position 4, then how many positions does the police need to advance to, to be able to catch him?

Vineet Nayar, former CEO of HCL, along with his wife Anupama, started Sampark in 2004. "A lot of school children in rural areas do not have the basic knowledge in various subjects. And often, due to the lack of interactive learning, they are deprived of the education," said Nayar, speaking with HuffPost India.

Sampark Didi is mainly used to teach two subjects, Maths and English. For teaching English, Sampark has taken to recording lessons in Hinglish. The device has 30 stories and 15 rhymes to teach almost 500 English words. For mathematics, there are 100 pre-loaded activities meant to teach 23 basic concepts.


"Children understand more when something is presented to them in a story. Maths and English are pillars of education in the current age," Nayar said. "It is estimated that out of 144 Million children studying in 714,000 schools in India, over 50% in the 5th grade cannot read simple English words or recognize numbers beyond 99. We want to remove that barrier."

"We are tying up with state governments directly for the distribution the devices," he added. "And devices hardly need maintenance. We have designed the product in such a way that it is easily replaceable. We also monitor every kid based on the performance and modify our program accordingly till we reach satisfactory results."

Currently, Sampark foundation is catering to close to 3 million children in about 50,000 schools. The organization aims to assist 10 million children by 2020.

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Pictures from the 'Forgotten Children' report

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