“I enjoy these interactive sessions with students from other countries. They want to know about our culture and we are curious about theirs. The fun part is that we are miles apart but close because of the digital world,” Sakshi later told us.
Yadavwadi is a village, 235 km from Pune. Parents of students studying in this school mostly work on construction sites as daily wage labourers. Sakshi and her fellow students have virtually never seen places beyond 150 km from Yadavwadi. But they’ve almost traveled thousands of miles to countries like Vietnam, Taiwan, Romania, and even the United States.
school teacher, Ravindra KedarHe is the architect of the initiative. Called “Beyond Borders,” the program uses a 73-inch screen, Windows, Android apps, a webcam, wi-fi, a sound system, and educational apps.
Kedar communicates with schools from other countries through social media, and an interaction is organized once a month. Sometimes Kedar takes two months to plan a virtual interaction. We send a presentation to their social media and after much deliberation they agree to join the interaction. We share an agenda where the first five minutes are an introduction to both schools and pin them on a world map for students to understand.
At first, it was just a plain white screen, with a normal projector. Kedar had to assemble all other connectors such as laptop and internet. The initiative yielded good results, and the students developed a keen interest in the class. Word spread throughout Taluka and more students wanted to join the school. Attendance swelled.
This success encouraged the school administration to install the 73-inch smart screen. All they had to do after that was start up the screen and they were connected to the World Wide Web.
Students from each country share interesting facts about their region and country, and also sing and dance in a 90-minute session. Many of the students said they learned new life skills. Their English speaking and writing skills have improved.
Ranjit Shivcharan, the father of one of the students attending the school, appreciates the teachers for their creative thinking. “Our children now don’t want to miss a single day and are highly motivated and confident while interacting with anyone around them,” he says.
Sangesineh ChavanCEO of Kolhapur Zilla Parishad, says that the school organizes virtual interactions with eminent personalities, which provides great inspiration to the students.
The school had 334 students in 2018, and that number has now increased to 534. This success has recently encouraged the school to propose installing more screens. Each smart screen costs 1.75 lakh. Kedar says the county collector believed in the program and agreed to fund a screen in each of his twelve classrooms. “School is completely digital now,” he says.