ViREd is a social venture that aims to work with government schools in some most backward districts of India i.e. Gulbarga and Yadgir to improve the level of education by using innovative educational tools and integrating them within the public school system. As an enterprise we seek to collaborate with content providers both curricular, extracurricular and skill based so as enable holistic development of these children from these underprivileged communities. We aim through this to create a model of learning for these schools that can be adapted as a policy in these districts and thus create greater social impact.
Context of the Problem (Macro Level- Where we aim to influence)
The condition of government schools in Karnataka(one of the largest states in India) is dismal. In terms of infrastructure, the DISE data shows that only 6 out of every 10 schools in the country have electricity. In Karnataka, 10,592 schools in Karnataka had 3 classrooms, 14,064 had 2 classrooms, 2,083 had 1 classroom and 164 schools had no classrooms at all. According to the Public Report on Basic Education, 1998, 59 million drop out before they reach class VIII. The DISE report found that around 30% to 40% of classrooms need serious repair. Karnataka having a lot of IT companies, a lot of computers are donated by IT companies but sit in mountain of dust because there is no teacher to teach the courses or no electricity for more than 50% of the time. Hence such infrastructural deficiencies like lack of teachers, electricity facilities for learning and lack of motivation to learn due to content being unappealing.
Context of the problem(Macro-level- where we have begun operations)
Gulbarga is a rural district in North Karnataka. On the macro level, it has a literacy rate of 51% compared to the national average of 67%. It Gulbarga is one of the most backward districts of India. Its education index being 0.567. On the micro level, the quality of education in rural areas has suffered due to several structural and organizational deficiencies. The infrastructural inadequacies coupled with failure on the part of the management. Further the lack of understanding of the existential situation of these youngsters who live in less favorable situations and constantly want to escape it leads to education being meaningless for most. The education being standardized fails to address their particular situation. The existential situation of the child which leads him not to find meaning in education that does not produce results that would enable him to achieve something in life leaves him disillusioned and a passerby in the field of education. Poverty pushes the student to want to earn and hence they drop out of school. Further attempts have been made by various organizations to provide e-learning and other means to improve education. These have tended to be piecemeal and have not sought to take various factors into considerations and particularly forming an overall plan for the continued accompaniment of the child through the process of his/her development. Further these are solutions that are not chosen by the children. Further, those who have dropped out of school do not have any options and their lives tend to stagnate and take up odd jobs.
Problem Map of Gulbarga
From the problem map I realized that there is stagnation of public education because of the lack of interest in the students due to a lack of correlation between the life that they were living and the subjects that they were taught and further how what they were they were taught would lead them to do something meaningful in life so as to break the cycle of poverty in the family which forces them to receive education which is substandard. Further the lack of quality leads to a high dropout rate and failure in the competitive exams.
Looking at the aspects of need for quality in education in rural spaces. We see the opportunity in using innovative means of education and various other innovations that could connect with children. The venture we are envisioning does not merely seek to provide service in terms of numbers but that the students be placed at the center and our efficiency in terms of improvement in qualitative terms and number of lives positively intervened in will be our judging criteria for progress in the venture. We see the possibility of our venture having a huge impact in terms of knowledge of the ground reality, connection with institutions and working with them and the beneficiaries and also in constantly monitoring effectiveness of the solutions provided because of the localized nature of our venture. Further being on the ground, and creating content that is contextual and would be adaptable to the circumstances.
The Venture will aim to work with rural government high schools with children from the 8th-10th grade. We will aim at supplementing their school curriculum by enhancing their conceptual understanding of the subjects that they are being taught. We aim to use innovative learning methods such as e-learning, group discussions, design thinking in classes. We will initially act as an aggregator of content. We have found that content exists and there is no dearth of it. But the way it has been implemented has not been effective enough. Later we will be creating our own content. Also we will be providing an evaluative mechanism where the teacher could find out where the student needs to work harder and what area they need to focus on. We will also be providing the child the ability to map out their future and how their present education directs them to it and how their actions work towards that too. Our evaluation will also be in terms of the content provided so that we begin to understand how content can be implemented in particular contexts and its effectiveness in that particular context.
Our Pedagogical Concept
We are looking at creating a child centric model that looks at the child holistically and works towards understanding how we will create an environment and a learning system where the child feels the value of the education he receives and where he is able to grow into skills and values that enable him to adapt to the environment which tends not to be conducive to learning and yet be driven to achieve his potential.
We are looking to use the flipped classroom methodology where content is provided to the children which they can access and home using tablets that are provided. The content is licensed to each school and each child can learn through lessons that are loaded on that. The teacher will be able to monitor how much the student is able to use the content. Hence the classroom would be used for assimilating and individual attention which would enable a much better follow up of the students.
ViREd aims to be a venture that provides innovative learning and evaluative platforms to the children in rural government schools in Gulbarga which is a remote area in Karnataka. We aim to provide e-learning, experiential learning, literacy based programs for school children which will aim at strengthening their foundational abilities so as to be able to perform well in the 10th standard exams.
We aim to initially be an aggregator of learning that already exists and later aim to be producer of such content. We will not create a mass product based system i.e. creating a product and merely inserting it into an institution but we will aim to work with the institution, training the teachers on using e-learning and inserting it into the syllabus, working to provide constant evaluation of the students that will gauge how much they are learning.
We aim to partner with organizations that have created content keeping in mind various factors with regard to pedagogy, keeping the child at the center of the process of learning and the teacher as a primary provider and facilitator. We will work with government schools. We aim to bring sustainable solutions that do not depend on the venture in the long run but the community is able to sustain it. We will connect with organizations working with sustainable solutions to provide sustainable solutions in these schools. We will work towards training these teachers towards using these innovative means of teaching. Further we will enable students to operate these systems so that they can choose to learn even when the teacher tends not to be there.
We will be looking at how we could education practical too by various activities that would enable better learning. We will create an app based database where the student will be assessed individually and skills or subjects that the kid is not able to grasp, he will be able provided extra help. This will not be just academic but we will make it holistic.
Business Model Canvas
Value Proposition Model
The following are our offerings:-
- E-learning material:- This is will be content in the local language that will be provided along with a projector to each class. This would be provided so as to supplement the lessons that happen in class. This will both content that is created by us and through partnership with various content providers. We will be facilitators for these NGOs that create content so that their content gets implemented in the schools and we work towards maximum integration of it.
- Child centric content:- Initially we will work with partnering organizations but we will work in creating our own specific model based content.
- Evaluation Software:- Our software will create a database that will allow each student of the school enrolled in it and who uses our material to undergo tests based on what they have learnt and our software will create a learning path which indicates what the child needs to concentrate on and this will be looking at the career choice that the child wants to pursue. This will be beneficial in a two fold manner where content will be evaluated in terms of its effectiveness with students. We will evaluate content in terms of its approach of implementation, delivery and ability of students to understand it. Hence further research could be done as to how to implement a better methodology.
- Holistic life skill material:- We will also be focusing on other educational content that will enable the child to grasp the concepts that he is given to study so that learning does not become a mere formality. We aim to also bring design thinking to schools and other skills that are necessary for the children to be empowered.
- Training for the teachers: We will provide school teachers with the ability to integrate the technology provided into the teaching and also monitor how much it is being used.
Our venture is based on the premise of how partnership and collaboration between various agents that seek to solve a particular social problem can have a greater impact than being a monolith and trying to find solutions. This belief has led us to seek partners in our desire to make education meaningful and empowering for the children of this disadvantaged region of Hyderabad Karnataka region. We are looking to transforming government schools as institutions that build these marginalized children and equipping them with skills that are they will see as their right. The ecosystem that we create in these schools will encourage learning where children will learn for life and also the ability to go forward in life. Further as we move into more schools we enable a change of the perception of government schools providing low quality education. Further we are also working with private institutions that cannot afford expensive content hence we will be able to sustain ourselves through working with them.
Current Market Scenario
There are around 4442 government and 3557 aided schools in Karnataka and about 5,576 private unaided schools. We believe most of the educational companies look at the private schools in order to provide solutions since these can pay a larger amount and tend to be just a product that is delivered to the school. Further the local language market has not been explored enough because it does not give the returns for profit oriented companies. Further solutions that have been provided to these schools are just for a period of time and not properly integrated into the pedagogy of the school.
We look to focus on the government and the aided schools that are in Kannada medium that focus more on the marginalized sections. This constitutes a majority of the government and aided schools. Hence a huge market exists for the enterprise.
Product/ Enterprise Feasibility
Our organization aims to be contextual. We work with schools by creating ecosystems of learning. Our solutions do not seek to just create a single product but aims to create a process that will create a much more tangible effect to the school. Our solutions are also economically feasible for these private schools that are affordable and in the government schools too where the infrastructure we create will be through pushing the school to create infrastructure. The market for Kannada content is rather sparse with most content just being a translation from the English content. Hence our contextual and focused content will prove to be more effective. For government schools we will look to partner with the CSR of various companies through which we can build infrastructure.
Our enterprise is feasible because of we aim to bring various stakeholders to bring out the change. Hence the cost dramatically reduces and the the sustainability is owned by the community.
Competitive Advantage of Our Business
But we aim to work in the school in creating an ecosystem and create that impact. Our 360 degree learning solutions would enable a more holistic environment of learning. Further our impact is directly measurable as we take ownership and the performance of the students in the exam is used as one the measures of our impact. Our content further is both curricular and skill based. Hence it focuses on the entire individual. Further our aim at constantly upgrading the content that we provide keeps us always in touch with the needs of the students and the school. Further our costs of creating content and focus on implementation leads to a greater focus on the impact that we can create.
We are looking to partner with content providers (both curricular and skill based), organizations that provide content, evaluation platforms. We have already partnered with several of these and have acquired content from them that we are using in our pilot. These include Design for Change, Meghshala, Apnishala, Ekstep, Leap for Word which are both content and skill based content providers. Further for evaluation we are working with the Genie app that belongs to EkStep to create an evaluation for the students. We have also partnered with Don Bosco College Angadikadavu where we are looking to create our platform and content. Further we have an agreement with a company called BizApp who have agreed to allow us to use their learning management system where we can upload our courses and use it for creating courses for schools.
I have attached proof for these here https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B0RavoXvagIqakxXN3NCOG9fVlE
The resources that we require to begin implementing our model in schools include the following
- Content: As we have mentioned above the content we have acquired and are looking to acquire further after our proof of concept.
- Learning Management System: We have connected with a software company that is providing it to us for free and we are working on creating our own.
- School Support: We have few of our team members on the ground who are collaborating with schools
- Support Partners: We have partners such as the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BREADS, a development organization that looks to get us partners and other investors who are looking at the result of our pilot to invest further.
Here are attached the list of the stakeholders who are involved in the enterprise: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B0RavoXvagIqZ2VMdHg5V2JrYmc
Pilot Venture for ViREd
I began the pilot for my venture from March 1st, 2017. I have been able to contact various organizations who have shown interest in working with me in this area which requires immediate and collective action in order to improve the quality of education. This is evidenced from the fact of the number of NGOs and companies who have come forward to share their resources with us.
I conducted my first pilot which was a preparatory camp for those entering the 10th Standard which is an important year for them. We had around 25 kids and we found how much they were lacking in the ability to do fundamental calculations, reading writing etc. It was a real eye opener for me. We used various techniques such as e-learning, group meditation, group games etc, soft skill classes etc and had a very positive outcome at the end of it. This was conducted in a government school, using the facilties of the school and hence incurring hardly any expenses.
This month we began a pilot for kids who had failed in the 10th standard exam. We focused on a school where not one child passed because of the quality of the education they were receiving. This pilot is still going on. We are using elearning content, classroom methodology etc to enable them to pass in the supplementary exam and hence pursue their future careers.