This Mumbai-based NGO got classes on MP3 players for Maharashtra’s rural students

Chirag Foundation came up with the idea as a large section of children who belong to the shepherd community would be out all day and hence found it difficult to assemble in one place
By Ankita Bhatkhande, Mumbai
UPDATED ON NOV 13, 2020 09:11 PM IST

As students from remote parts of Maharashtra struggle to become a part of online learning six months after schools started, a city-based NGO has come up with an easy learning solution for these kids.

In the past two months, Chirag Foundation, founded by educationist Pratibha Pai, has successfully piloted the use of solar lamps-cum-MP3 players for learning in the remote hamlet of Bharanapada in Mokhada, Palghar. The NGO, which mainly works to transform villages with the help of solar power, realised that after Covid-19 and the resultant closure of schools, children from remote areas were facing hurdles in online learning.

Also read: No school due to Covid-19 pandemic may mean no study for rural students across Maharashtra, warn experts

“Initially, we made speakers available to students and content would be played for children in small groups. However, a large section of children who belong to the shepherd community would be out all day and hence found it difficult to assemble in one place. We thus came up with preloaded MP3 players which could be carried anywhere. Students found it very useful as they could listen to content whenever they got the time without requiring a network connection,” said Pai. The NGO now plans to replicate the model in other villages across the state.

Shraddha Shringarpure founder of Diganta Swaraj Foundation, a local partner of the NGO which helped with its on-ground implementation, said students have benefitted immensely from the initiative. “We have been able to make learning capsules for students from anganwadi to Class 7 and students are happy with the content. In this village, most people are below the poverty line and cannot afford smartphones. An intervention like this is very crucial to continue the learning of such students,” she said.

Also read: ‘Only 57% Maharashtra students have internet connectivity’

The NGO, through its initiative Project Chirag, has also made thousands of solar lights available to students across Maharashtra and in other rural parts of the country. Mainly working towards electrification of villages, the foundation has supported 500 villages so far.

“Even during the pandemic, we managed to work with 46 villages to help them with various things, ranging from providing lighting solutions to sustainable livelihoods. We think that if villages are made sustainable, people living in rural parts won’t have to migrate to cities and work with meagre incomes. We have thus started creating livelihood opportunities for people in their own villages,” said Pai.

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