Dubai students help educate underprivileged kids in India

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on May 29, 2021
Some student volunteers from Jumeirah English Speaking School. Supplied photo

Students evaluate educational videos intended for students in Grade 9 and 10

Students in the UAE are going above and beyond in their endeavour to help underprivileged students in India who are facing challenges due to the prevailing pandemic situation.

A group of students primarily from Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) came together and initiated a unique education project to evaluate educational videos meant for students in India in the wake of the pandemic.

During the lockdown last year, 17-year old Aarav Sethia noticed that their semi-literate domestic help was struggling with basic tasks such as saving phone numbers, keeping track of her expenses and remittances and even returning the correct amount of change when paying for something.

Attempting to make her independent, this young Dubai resident was determined to educate her with elementary English and develop simple Mathematical abilities.

A JESS student, Aarav says, “The idea of The Education Project was a direct outcome of Covid-19 induced lockdowns and related challenges. I felt that sympathy was not enough; it was finally time to act. Aiming to make her more self-reliant, I started teaching her basic literacy skills during weekends. Some of her friends and relatives in India were keen as well, so I started teaching them online via Zoom. These were the humble beginnings of ‘The Education Project’. I was then able to create a team of like-minded friends and other volunteers who were willing to embark on this journey to channel their energy to a positive cause.”

Soon Aarav contacted various organisations and was able to partner with the Rotary Club of India, who were already in active collaboration with the Indian Ministry of Education, aiming to alleviate the lack of learning for students due to public-school closures throughout the country.

Aarav later says, “Out of the 220 videos that were evaluated, I evaluated 15 videos for Science that were intended for students in Grade 9 and 10. We rated the videos on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the lowest rating – meaning ‘Unsuitable, and needs improvement’ – and 5 being the highest – implying ‘To a high standard’ – along with detailed comments for further insights. Creating a standardised template containing parameters such as ‘Methods of Engagement’ and ‘Quality of Audio’ etc. that was shared with all the volunteers allowed such factors to be taken into consideration.”

The students had a clear template to grade these videos on criteria such as user-friendliness, technical information, presentation and teaching method used in these videos.

Another JESS student, Victor Charpentier, highlights, “Each criterion was graded out of 5 and then sent back to the team in India. As for the number of videos, we made sure every student was given a specific subject, but also a specific year group, so that we could cover a wide panel for the students that will benefit from the videos. Each student then watched around 15 videos. Thus, we evaluated over 200 resources of learning on the Diksha website. Organisation and teamwork were key components of the project.”

The team identified anomalies, corrected recurring errors and came up with meaningful suggestions.

Srishti Mallik, a student of Dubai British School (DBS), Dubai said, “Some videos lacked any visual stimulus like photographs or diagrams, resulting in the content being quite monotonous and dreary. On the other hand, some videos had perfectly balanced content but suffered from technical difficulties as the transitions cut off areas of the screen, leaving the viewer relatively disoriented. The main point of reviewing the content was of course to identify and bring attention to any of these errors so that they can be corrected.”

Appeal to overseas students

Anindo Roy, Senior Manager, Programs, Rotary India Literacy Mission said, “In India, Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on education have triggered the need of digital learning especially for children in government schools in India with traditional teaching methods. Approximately 1.5 million schools in India and a student population of approximately 320 million are locked down in their homes.

Under India’s E-Vidya program, RILM (Rotary India Literacy Mission) has developed software content (1500 videos) for grades 1 to 12 based on NCERT (The National Council of Educational Research & Curriculum, Government of India) that have been running on various online portals and apps.”

He adds, “although, each video has been critically reviewed by NCERT, we also invite student volunteers from any part of the world for review of the developed material from a student point of view. Recently a group of 14 senior students from Dubai and 2 senior students from India have participated in the review project. The participation of these students would help for further advancement of the content.”

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