RTCs completed one more term in Feb 2023. Four older RTCs in Thiruvallur and the two new ones in Thoothukudi are all functioning well.
Rural Technology Centres – Feb 2023
IITM Pravartak and Asha launched the first two Rural Technology Centres back in Jan 2022 at Kanakamma Chathram and Seethanjeri in Thiruvallur District. The RTC started their second term and the next two RTCs were launched in July 2022 at Poondi and Kannigaiper. The fifth one opened in Kayathar in Oct 2022.
This report provides an update on their functioning as well as the opening of a new RTCs at Kalugumalai. Here are photos from the Rural Technology Centres related to various points covered in this report.
Functioning of Existing RTCs
Broadly the RTCs were functioning as detailed in the previous reports. Here are the specifics of the functioning of the RTCs in the last term (July ’22 to Feb ’23).
This RTC was continuing to function well. They managed to increase the strength by reaching out more to the students at Arcot Kuppam. While the RTC saw a strength of 60 to 65 during the term, 52 of them completed all the elements of our course (75% attendance, complete the final assessment and clear it, and submit a detailed project). This RTC offered the usual courses in basic digital literacy and basic programming conducted by the two RTC teachers Eswari and Yamini. In addition, the lead teacher for the RTCs, Kumari, directly offered Web Development course as well to the students of this RTC.
The support at the school was also good. They were continuing to cover all the children in classes 6 to 9 and when they got the chance they were also able to reach out to the higher class students.
The other older RTC was also functioning well. Here too by reaching out to the Govt high School at Placepalayam and some more remote schools, they were able to increase the strength to about 60 during the term of which 48 went on to complete the full course. Here too basic digital literacy, basic programming and web development courses were offered. The two teacher working here Divya and Radha continued managing the RTC effectively.
The support at the school continued in the same manner. The school’s problem with lack of classrooms continued but they were able to manage with their own laptops at the different classrooms that were offered to them.
The RTC started well in July with students mostly from the GHSS Poondi itself. The school was also
providing good support to our efforts. Many of the children who were coming to the centre had trouble
with the commute as the school was serving very remote areas with poor connectivity. Therefore a
number of the students dropped out. Our teachers at the RTC Dhatchayani and Rajkumari tried way to
retain them. But finally, many of the students did not have sufficient attendance to have learnt
sufficiently to take up the project and the assessment. After a high of about 80 students coming every
week in October, finally only about 28 students completed the requirements for certification.
We are looking at options like running an auto at 6:30 pm to various villages to ensure transport for the
children. For now we are operating the RTC as a single teacher RTC with just Dhatchayani working there.
If the strength improves, we will add a second teacher as well.
Kannigaiper on the other hand had several source schools. In addition to the GHSS Kannigaiper where our teachers were teaching, several of the students were also coming from the govt high schools in Thirukandalam and Athivakkam and also the GHSS in Periyapalayam. The space at our RTC was the smallest among all the RTCs. The RTC was always overflowing with children. The teacher at the RTC, Nadhiya and Poonkodi did well to sustain the interest of the children.
The work at the school was proceeding well but the support at the school was not always fully there. There was space shortage at the school. For a while we were promised one room. We even spent a little on electrical work in that room. But then they needed the room and started moving our teachers around.
Kayathar being a small town, it continued to attract the most number of atudents. About 120 students come regularly to the RTC. As the RTC opened only in October, it did not conduct assessments or participate in the RTC Impressions conducted on Feb 6th. It will join the rest of the RTCs and its first term will only be the Feb-July 2023 term. Most of the children in the RTC are registered for the digital literacy course only as they haven’t had any exposure to computer science. We have to move the existing batch of students to programming and other advanced courses over the next year.
When we started, our intention was to work with the Veerapandiya Kattabomman (VPKB) GHSS, the main govt school in Kayathar. However we could not get the permission to work with that school and have been working with the Govt High School in Ayyanar Ootru about 10 Kms from Kayathar. The work is going well in the school but the children in that school are not coming to the RTC. Therefore it is not serving the purpose of being a feeder of trained students for our RTC. We have to continue to see if we can work with the VPKBGHSS.
Final Assessments and Projects
To get the certificate of completion the students registered for the classes need to have an attendance of 75%, complete a 1.5 month long project and also get a passing mark in the final assessment. Here are the number of students who cleared all these requirements at our various projects.
|Kanakamma Chathram||30 (8 distinctions)||15 (6 distinctions)||7 (2 distinctions)||52 (16 distinctions)|
|Seethanjeri||33 (5 distinctions)||12 (2 distinctions)||3||48 (7 distinctions)|
|Poondi||18 (7 distinctions)||10 (2 distinctions)||28 (9 distinctions)|
|Kannigaiper||46 (6 distinctions)||11||57 (6 distinctions)|
|TOTAL||127 (26 distinctions)||48 (10 distinctions)||10 (2 distinctions)||185 (38 distinctions)|
Note that distinctions were awarded to the students who scored above a cut off (about 60% marks) in the assessments and also got their projects selected for the RTC Impressions.
Read the separate report on the project work at the RTCs and the RTC Impressions function.
Assessments were conducted rigorously. Teachers from one RTC went to another RTC to conduct the assessments. The assessments were all conducted on the computer and the children were on the fly asked to write programs and create presentations on various topics. Find attached the papers that we used for assessments. As the students are seated next to each other, there were multiple assessment papers of similar complexity given to the students.
Observation Visits by Volunteers and Lead Teacher
One of the key ways in which we align our programs in different RTCs and ensure that the RTCs are progressing well is through constant monitoring. Two of our volunteers Rajaram and Venkat are involved deeply with the RTCs. They both have long careers in computer science and software development.
We started a new RTC at Kayathar in October. As the RTC was started in the middle of the term, we did not conduct the assessments or projects and we also did not award certificates at this RTC. With the start of the new term in 2023, we have also started a new RTC at Kalugumalai. Read the separate report on the inauguration of the new RTC at Kalugumalai.
RTCs in 2023 – Term 1
After the assessments and the RTC Impressions functions the 5 continuing RTCs started organising themselves for the new semester. The new RTC at Kalugumalai is also aligned in schedule with the older RTCs. All the RTCs will offer the courses in Basic Digital Literacy and Basics of Programming.
The following advanced courses based on “CS Discoveries” course in code.org will also be offered by different RTCs this year.
|Web Development||This course will empower the students to create and share their own content using code.org’s Web Lab platform. They engage in problem solving as it relates to programming, as they learn valuable skills such as debugging, commenting, and structure of language. This will be offered by the RTCs at Kanakamma Chathram, Seethanjeri and Kannigaiper.|
|Physical Programming||This course is offered only at the Kanakamma Chathram RTC. The children will learn to manage sensors and other hardware controls available through the AdaFruit programmable board. This is based on the physical programming module of the CS Discoveries.|
Otherwise the RTCs will continue to function as they have been doing in the previous term.