NEP Conference – July 2023
Click here to see photos from the event.
Asha Chennai has been partnering with IITM Pravartak Foundation to implement several social initiatives. These include,
- Running of 7 Rural Technology Centres.
- Development of Asha Kanini and its installation and training at 400+ government schools.
Besides these IIT Madras has also partnered with Asha for the RightStart teacher training program that has been held in the IIT Madras campus since 2003.
On the 3rd anniversary of the New Education Policy, the Ministry of Education conducted a conference to showcase what various institutions were doing in this regard. IITM was also requested to showcase its effort. As one of the 15 booths put up by IITM, Asha was also given a booth to showcase our efforts. Venkat, myself (Rajaram) and Rohit, one of our software engineers who knows good Hindi travelled to Delhi for the event.
Asha was told that we will be given a 9 ft by 9 ft booth. We prepared 3 A0 size posters each on Asha Kanini and the RTCs and one poster explaining our various training initiatives. We also prepared informative video the RTCs and made some changes to an older video on Asha Kanini.
We also created activities for children which they can complete in about 15 minutes that were related to our Computer Science curriculum (and which were also used in our RTCs). These activities includes,
- Maze and Bird activities from Blockly Games.
- Two treasure hunts which teacher the children about files and folders. These were variations of the treasure hunt activities that are part of the one-hour digital literacy activities we had created.
- Other programming activities from Code.org’s CS Fundamentals.
We also prepared certificates to give the children who completed these activities.
On July 28th we reached Delhi and to the conference venue in Pragati Maidan by about 1:00 pm. However the venue was far from ready. As the building itself was inaugurated only a couple of days earlier, a lot of construction activities were still going on. Thankfully our booth was ready but many of the booths were still being built. We got electricity to the booth only the next day morning and Wifi was not available throughout the conference. Carpets were laid in the first floor only by the end of the first day of the conference. Our booth was grouped along with all the other booths by IITM. We finished putting up the posters and then couldn’t do much else because of there was no power. The next day morning we could set up the videos on the TV and setup all the tablets for the children to try out.
Happenings at the Conference
Prime Minister Narendra Modiji was expected at the conference on Saturday morning. However he only visited the booths in the ground floor. In addition to the booths, there were also panel discussions and book releases scheduled at the conference. However, there was no schedule of this distributed and we were largely unaware of these and ended up missing most of these.
On Sunday morning carpets were finally laid in the first floor! The reason was not hard to seek. Education minister came to the booths in the first floor and also visited some of the IITM booths but didn’t look into Asha’s booth.
Prof. Kamakoti, directory of IIT Madras, chaired the panel discussion on digital empowerment. Some professors from IITM also had a book release function for a book they had authored analysing the impact of Narendra Modi’s Man ki Bath program.
Happenings at the Asha Booth
Even though dignitaries did not come to Asha’s booth, ours was one of the most popular booths among the children. Once the first set of children from a school dropped in and tried our activities, they liked it and immediately informed their classmates and friends as well to try it out. They fact that they were getting a certificate from the activity was a further attraction.
The general public’s visit the conference was mostly on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Schools were bringing in large number of students. Many of them came to our booth as well. As the next booth was not occupied, we used that also to seat the children.
We gave certificates to about 200 children. In addition to these, another 200 more would have tried our activities but left because their school group was moving on or because the teachers were calling them. On Sunday, we also got them to fill a feedback form. Here are some feedback that we received,
- Nice game. Improves efficiency of ur brain.
- It was amazing
- It’s really great and good for student in exploring new things.
- Very nice game. I really enjoyed it.
- It was quite fun exercise for mental health.
On the whole we also enjoyed spending the time with the children and working with them to help them with these puzzles.
We also visited other booths in the conference and some of these people visited our booth as well. The contacts made will come in handy down the road.