Within six weeks of the state-wide roll-out, over 11 lakh students of Grades 1-10 have started practicing the weekly assessments and home learning activities under the Swadhyay (WhatsApp based) program by the Government of Maharashtra & SCERT Maharashtra. With the affordability and accessibility of Whatsapp based assessments and personalised learning under Swadhyay, students now have asynchronous access to online education.
Swadhyay program was launched by the Hon’ble School Education Minister of Maharashtra, Varsha Gaikwad, on 3rd November 2020 in partnership with ConveGenius, India’s leading EdTech social enterprise, and Leadership For Equity (LFE), an education systems change organization working with the state government. The overall management of the program is led by SCERT Maharashtra. The event was highly monumental for lakhs of students in Maharashtra, as in the times of pandemic online education for many had become adversity in itself. The event was also graced by the attendance of the Additional Chief Secretary Mrs. Vandana Krishna, Education Commissioner Mr. Vishal Solanki, other education departments dignitaries of SCERT, district officers from all Zilla Parishads and DIETs. The program is specially intended to support students from low-income families and students studying in government and aided schools to provide high-quality digital learning with minimal cost, and use evidence and data to prepare the teachers for remedial teaching in the real/virtual classrooms.
In a discussion with a class 7th class student, Poorva Jambulkar, from Higher Primary school, Parasodi, District Gondia about her experience using this innovative method of learning, she said, “For most of the pandemic, we had to rely on Youtube as we could not meet our teachers. But learning through Swadhyay is easier, barely costs us anything and the videos solve most of our doubts. Me and my sister and my three friends who leave nearby have been using one phone and allotted time durations to study from Swadhyay using our father’s phone. The weekly tests were initially daunting but as I took the assignments, each result became a target to cross the next time and hence, a great motivation for me to learn. We enjoy these classes because of the animation and its simplicity.”
“Most of our students belong to daily wage-earning families. Expecting them to attend video calls for live classes was far fetched. Some of these families do not even own a single smartphone. I used to visit the colony of my students once a week to teach them earlier during the pandemic. However, they had not much to do for the rest of the days and were lagging behind. But with Whatsapp learning into the picture, things are much better now. The students who have a smartphone at home practice their lessons through it. I gave one of my own spare smartphones to those who don’t, which rotates around 6 households, i.e. 15 children during the entire week and I visit them on Sunday to solve their doubts,” says a teacher from a government school in Nasik.