Date: January 19th, 2012 [Thursday]
Location I: Indapur Arts, Commerce & Science College, Indapur, Pune, Maharashtra, India
Location II: Vidya Pratishthan, Arts, Commerce & Science College, Baramati, Pune, Maharashtra, India Report by Ravi Ghate, eduVARTA, Pune ( 09822522333)
Mobile Media Association (MMA), Pune – Maharashtra was selected as a winner of Vodafone Mobile for Good Prize 2011 for its education oriented project – eduVARTA . MMA was also nominated for a fund support of ` 10,00,000 by Vodafone India Foundation and mentorship support by Digital Empowerment Foundation for one year (from October 2011 to Oct 2012).
A visit to Indapur & Baramati was scheduled to review the project base and witness the difference made through the financial and mentorship support given to MMA. The visiting team from Delhi included Ms Laura Turkington, Head, Vodafone India Foundation and Mr Osama Manzar, Founder & Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation. The DEF – VIF team visited educational centres situated in Indapur & Baramati tehsils in Pune with the Mobile Media Association- Pune team along with Research Students from Chinese University on Thursday, January 19th, 2012.
Firstly the team visited ‘Arts, Commerce & Science College’, Indapur, which is the extreme south tehsil of Pune district nearly 160 KM far from Pune. The team had a mix experience of the sight during the traveling through irrigated as well as draught prone areas on the roadside. The team reached Indapur College at 10.30 am. All the students and college staff members welcomed the VIF-DEF team very warmly. Dr Sanjay Chakane, Principal of College welcomed the team with flowers. A nice and colourful Rangoli was made to welcome and also to introduce Indian traditional welcome practices to Ms Laura Turkington.
As the team settled, Dr Chakane presented a PPT on ‘How eduVARTA SMS services helped him in the management of students and staff and the college activities’. He also explained how he uses eduVARTA as a tool to gather public for the Lecture Series which took place at Indapur with a bigger crowd than in any other time period of 10 years previously. He showed the impact of SMS on the rural habitants with 2-3 exemplary SMS that how a student can play a role of media to penetrate developmental schemes and programs to reach the villagers and panchayats. Also he demonstrated the College – Students – Village connectivity for providing messages based on the need. About 3500 students from around 140 villages attend the college regularly. He explained how, he has been able to create a model in 40 villages that the students can deliver important content to villagers by writing on the Village Panchayat notice boards.
Then team started interacting with students. Mr Osama Manzar took over the dais to share his vision and made the environment very light and comfortable for the students to express their experience with the services driven by eduVARTA. Many girl students came forward and shared their stories on how eduVARTA SMS helped them. The team came to know about the effectiveness of the tool as the girl students use eduVARTA SMSs for all important notifications as college notice boards are always crowded by boys. Some girl students were using their fathers’ mobile phones to receive the eduVARTA services as their family doesn’t allow them to have a mobile phone. A girl student explained how her English communication and vocabulary has been improved by using SMSs. A girl student explained how she learned abbreviations of various national institutes & universities by reading eduVARTA SMSs. The girl students showed their special gratitude towards the service as many times, they cannot attend the college due to family / farm reasons and with this service they are informed about all the college activities.
A NSS boy explained how he helped local citizens after he received eduVARTA alert on Disaster Management. Some students are NSS volunteers and they make themselves available whenever any social nuisance, natural calamities, incident happens and gets alerted by eduVARTA. Since the distance between Village and College varies from 1 KM to 40KM, eduVARTA helps the students in reaching various events, programs, functions on time. Boys also used eduVARTA in Environment protection and in Tree plantation.
An unexpected use of eduVARTA came into the light, how the snake catching team protected the residents by capturing the snakes from residential areas and made them free in jungles.
After Indapur the team left for Baramati, 40 KM from Indapur, at 12:00 PM. There the team firstly met Dr Arun Adsool, Principal of the College and Ex Pro-Vice Chancellor of University of Pune. He explained about the colleges and also why he executed eduVARTA in his college. ‘Vidya Pratishthan – Arts, Commerce & Science College’ is accredited as A – Grade college in NAAC inspection. As an innovation in ICT for education, this project was appreciated by the NAAC team and they expressed their happiness over implementing such an innovative project for more than 4500 students.
Then the team started interacting with students of BCS (Bachelor of Computer Science) & BCA (Bachelor or Computer Application). As the girl students were dominating in numbers in attendance, the hall was little shy in beginning. But with Mr. Osama Manzar’s friendly talk with the students, they started explaining how eduVARTA helped them in educational advancement. The expectation level of the under graduates is higher for the quality content from the international market, eduVARTA takes care of this and provides information based on the needs. The students wish to get alerts on various mentorships, fellowships and internships from recognized IT-ICT companies.
Presently eduVARTA faces a problem in the execution level because a number of students use AIRTEL & other connections in this area and as AIRTEL & a few others have blocked the Bulk SMS services thus it is very hard for the students to get eduVARTA alerts on their cell-phones. When asked, will all of you, migrate from AIRTEL to VODAFONE, if, VODAFONE offers eduVARTA service, 100% students raised their hands to support this innovative concept of ‘Educational Campus as one Close User Group’.
After visiting Indapur and then Baramati educational centres the team left for Pune. On the way back, the entire team, including MMA members and DEF-VIF members, discussed about the inputs and feedbacks given by the students of both the colleges. One thing which is liked by the students of both the colleges that if VODAFONE or any service provider launches eduVARTA as their VAS service, 100% students are ready to change their service provider, as the eduVARTA content was very crucial & important to them. The eduVARTA team has decided to focus on the colleges like Indapur College where there are more middle, lower middle class students than Baramati College. Also the launch of an “SMS based Career Helpline” is under plan after receiving feedback of the students from both the colleges.
Every student wishes to have specific knowledge on different career opportunities in every subject and also the guidance from different subject experts. eduVARTA team decided to focus more on “Urban to Rural Student Mentoring Program” as the demand is very high for such programme. Mr Jaydeep Pathare, Secretary, Prayas Youth Forum happily accepted co-responsibility with Ravikant Varpe to approach Urban Colleges.
Baramati college students who were shy before the DEF & VIF members, spoke to the camera team and gave very important feedback which eduVARTA team member Mr Parag Yadav, Mr Rahul Tirpude noted down & video graphed.
The visit to Indapur & Baramati colleges and interaction with the students from grass root has been a learning experience for the entire team about the educational scenario in the rural areas of the most modern state in the country.
We, at eduVARTA hope to turnaround the project in the next one year.
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