After a prolonged closure the schools in Tamilnadu finally started on 1st Nov 2021. Asha Chennai too wound down its mini-schools and started working with the schools again. Asha Chennai’s computer teachers started visiting the schools again. The Asha Kanini project with Pravartak was started to train all the government teachers in Thiruvallur district. The main part of this project that trains the teachers in the government schools got underway in November as well.
November has been a busy month because of all these things. Here is a report describing different things that have started now. Note that November was also a difficult month because of the heavy rains all over Tamilnadu. More days have been holidays during November than working days!
Computer Teachers at Schools
Asha Chennai started sending computer teachers to schools at all our project areas. We have not completed all the hiring and therefore some 20 of the schools that we support are still without computer teachers. Our computer teachers have been welcomed at all the schools they go to. They are able to get classes allocated to them and they are able to do their teaching work.
As the children have come back to schools after a one and a half year break in education, our computer teachers are also focussing more on teaching the children basic literacy and numeracy skills. Teaching of digital literacy and programming have taken a back seat. Here are some photos of our computer teachers working with the children in their schools.
Computer Teacher Training
There have been several newly hired computer teachers as well as regular teachers who have taken the new role of computer teachers. Further there were also several computer teachers who were earlier teaching classes 1 to 5 who have now been assigned middle schools. They needed training. There were also two Asha Kanini trainers who have been hired newly. They also needed to understand everything about Asha Kanini. Several training sessions were organised over Google meet and also in person.
Further the new computer teachers were paired with existing computer teachers and asked to attend their schools as well. This was also done for the new Asha Kanini trainers. This was done for a week. Here are a couple of photos of the new computer teachers and trainers working with the existing ones.
Asha Kanini Trainers Preparatory Work
Asha Kanini trainers also started their work. Asha has been working to obtain a formal permission from the education department to conduct training for the government teachers. We are still working on this. But while this is taking time, we decided to not just wait but to directly approach the schools. We have hired two new trainers and also moved 5 computer teachers from our Sangamam project to the Pravartak Asha Kanini project from Nov 1st.
We prepared training materials for them to use at the schools. This included a presentation and a brochure. Besides this, we gave each Kanini trainer, a 64 GB pen-drive with the following,
- Asha Kanini software.
- Asha Kanini contents.
- Windows 10 Operating system update and basic software we use like Java Development Kit, Java Runtime, VLC, Open Office, Tuxpaint, etc.
- Some regularly used utilities like Avast anti-virus, ccleaner, speccy etc.
We also trained the trainers on various things like,
- How to talk about Asha and Asha Kanini to the government teachers.
- How to install Asha Kanini and its contents?
- How to do basic maintenance of Windows software including installing various third party software?
- How to do some basic hardware check? i.e. Cabling is OK, dusting the outside and inside of the machines, etc.
- How to register the government school teachers on Asha Kanini so that they can use it?
We also learnt a few things. The Asha Kanini installer did not work on Windows 7 without SP1 and many of the government machines are still on Windows 7 without SP1. But we realised this was a dependency only for the installer we were using and not for the underlying Asha Kanini application itself. We are in the process of getting around that problem.
The pendrive we gave the teachers was a FAT32 pendrive which didn’t work properly in Windows 7. An NTFS pendrive would work better for that. But the NTFS pendrive will not be suitable for Windows 10 installations. Therefore we are planning to give 2 pendrives to the teachers. Further many of the machines in the govt schools are desktops which do not have a Wifi interface. Network connectivity is required for a short time to be able to register the user on Asha Kanini app on those machines. Therefore, we are planning to give each teacher a couple of Wifi dongles so that they can connect the machines to their hotspots and complete the registration.
Asha Kanini Training at Schools
The seven Asha Kanini trainers started identifying the schools in the blocks they have been allocated. They reached out to government teachers that Asha already knows to get introduction to various schools in their areas. Our coordinator Srinivasan also helped them to the extent possible in this. Some of the schools were hesitant and wanted us to come with the proper permissions from the CEO/DEO. However, many other schools who had heard of Asha also allowed us and were keen to see what we have done and get help with administering their computers and effectively using them for education.
We have also started using a Google Sheet as an ad-hoc CRM system. The teachers are tracking the contacts and visits with the various schools and the progress being achieved with each of them. Despite all the rain delay Asha Kanini has been installed in about 20 schools. The work they did at the schools include,
- Reaching out and establishing contact with the school and getting the permission to visit them.
- Talking to the teachers about Asha and Asha Kanini and getting them interested.
- Installing Asha Kanini on their computers.
- Training the teachers on how to use Asha Kanini including the different contents available with Asha Kanini.
- This also often includes taking sample classes with children.
As you can see our trainers need to be sales people, computer administrators, teachers, all rolled into one! Here are some pictures of our trainers in action.