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Company Feature
Published on: April 5, 2022, 12:58 p.m.
Vodafone India's connected learning
  • Vodafone India Foundation enables inclusive and holistic learning

By Business India Editorial

In 2015, the United Nations’ member states adopted a programme: ‘Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education to promote life-long learning opportunities for all’ as the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for Quality Education. Recently, the UN has also launched a rallying call to gather momentum on the SDGs, calling this the decade for action. 

Covid-19, however, has upended a lot of the progress that was made over years of work on educational inclusion and literacy. The two years plus of intermittent lockdowns have forced schools to transform to online learning, but only a few had resources to make their children attend classes from home. Additionally, the pandemic impacted job and livelihood, with more children being pulled out of schools. But, remote learning remains out of reach for at least 500 million students globally. 

Learning through activity: The Vodafone India Foundation has aligned its CSR initiatives with the UN agenda for Quality Education through its ‘Connected Learning’ initiatives. Be it through educating the educators, building model schools for students, enabling inclusive and holistic learning or bolstering merit with financial means, the interventions focus on technology, as well as people. 

Given the foundational role played by teachers in shaping future generations, Jigyasa – Vodafone Foundation’s flagship programme in education – focuses on alleviating some of the teachers’ most pressing concerns. The programme connects with more than 50,000 teachers in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, training them in digital teaching methodology and providing them with curated content resources, in line with the syllabus. This initiative has benefitted about 1.6 million students across the country.

Vodafone Foundation helps fulfil the vision of holistic development for students. Model schools are established in Karnataka, Gujarat, and Maharashtra, in addition to the five states supported by the Jigyasa programme. These schools are provided with the civil infrastructure, library resources and other facilities essential to make the school conducive to learning. 

The Foundation has also deepened its support to teachers. It has developed Gurushala – a knowledge-sharing platform – which equips a growing community of over 200,000 teachers with resources, training and community networking facilities, accessible in both Hindi and English. “I get topic-related videos and share them with the class,” says Sunita Sharma, a teacher from Delhi. “I have also been able to connect and clear children’s doubts using Google Meet and WhatsApp.”

This initiative has become more of a movement, with more teachers joining the active online community. Teachers access and share over 30,000 content pieces that help them modify their teaching material in innovative ways. This is how a school mentor turned things around for Sufiya, a differently-abled, class V student from Haridwar. His learning difficulties and lack of enjoyment in a traditional classroom set-up underwent a sea change when the mentor introduced him to gaming modules. Sufiya’s learning journey suddenly became more exciting and positive.

India’s education sector is also plagued by lack of awareness and limited access to scholarships. The foundation also launched its yearly Learning with Vodafone Idea Scholarship programme (Vi India Scholarships) in 2020. “Vodafone Idea is committed to leverage technology expertise,” said P. Balaji, chief regulatory & corporate affairs officer, Vodafone, at the time of the launch. 

The scholarships for teachers provide aid for availing e-learning, infrastructure, such as laptops and online courses, And, the Learning with Vodafone portal – a leading multi-lingual scholarship discovery and assistance platform – informs students about scholarships including the Vi India Scholarships. 

Today, the scholarships support over 300 teachers and 3,500 students. “This year, suddenly, we were told to study from home,” reminisces Shmruti Prashant Patro from Maharashtra, a beneficiary of the scholarship in 2020. “Our teacher was taking classes on mobile phones, which my parents could not afford. I had to borrow it, which was causing delay. Also, I had to miss my class often, since a phone was not available. But, after receiving the Vodafone Idea Students’ Scholarship, I purchased a mobile phone, with which I am now able to attend classes and also use the internet. My school fee, pending for the last few months, has also been paid because of the scholarship”. The foundation has also improved the engineering students’ employability prospects in the ITSS sector too. 

Advanced application workshops are offered to university faculty and students by industry experts. Through its initiatives, the foundation hopes to bring quality education to more people across India. Looking ahead, it hopes to see greater co-ordination amongst the players in the education ecosystem.

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