The Optimist Citizen

How cartoons are changing the landscape of education in rural Bihar

“Home is where the story begins. When I start something, it should be in my home state.” With this thought, the journey of Surya Prakash – an IIT Bombay alumnus – of educating the children in Gopalganj district in rural Bihar in the most effective ways started. After interacting with many school children, he realised that they needed a better learning mechanism, and most importantly a library. Along with a few friends, he started community libraries in different schools in June 2013, and 6 months later, registered themselves as an organisation named PRAYOG (Professionals Alliance for Youths Growth).

Soon he was approached by a research team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with an idea of providing the children with interactive tablets, so that they can learn without the help of any teacher altogether. Thus started his new initiative in 2014, for the pre-school children with support from MIT. Later Surya Prakash came to know about cartoon based modules developed by the Ernst and Young Foundation, and started a new project called Toon Masti for digitizing education in June 2016.

”Basically Toon Masti is an application which has cartoon based modules developed by EY Foundation, on the same pattern as of the national curriculum framework (NCERT).” says Surya. Aimed at the primary school students, Toon Masti covers Maths and EVS (Environmental Studies) as well as Hindi and English languages. It utilizes a child’s inalienable love for stories and kid’s shows and teaching is made interesting through the characters like Cheenu, Meenu, Buzz the Bee, Foota the ruler, Daadi mama, Tothu the Parrot etc. Reinforcement of key learning ideas is accomplished through games toward the finish of every module – this likewise makes the substance intelligent for the kids and helps the instructor evaluate their understanding.

On being asked about the procedure to check if students are actually being benefitted, Surya Prakash said, “There was a survey which we did a base-line survey in June 2016. We did another survey in October and we could actually see the positive change.” Along with the Tablet project for pre-school kids, and Digital Education Initiative with primary schoolers, PRAYOG is also working behind classroom libraries in collaboration with Pratham Books, based in Mumbai and Delhi.

Debarati Choudhury | TOC

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