RTC Completes 2 years

 Asha is running 6 RTCs (4 in Thiruvallur and 2 in Thoothukudi districts). Starting from two RTCs in Jan 2022, RTCs have successfully completed 4 terms. See a status report on the RTCs now.

Rural Technology Centres – Jan 2024

IITM Pravartak and Asha have been running 7 RTCs. Please read our previous report written in August 2023 to learn general things about RTCs. Here we are providing current details about the RTCs and the courses.
You can see photos from all the centres and schools supported here.


One of the RTCs that we were running at Poondi had to be closed down. The Poondi RTC was running as a single teacher RTC. It was doing well under our teacher Dhatchayani and won several prizes in the previous RTC Impressions. On Nov 23rd, early in the morning we got the terrible news that she had passed away. While we knew that she was out sick for a good part of the previous two weeks, we didn’t know that it had gotten this serious. She died of Jaundice which was complicated by her diabetic condition. Dhatchayani was just 26 years old and not yet married. She was the youngest daughter of three was was living with her parents in simple two room house. It was a great tragedy for her family as well as for Asha.

Poondi is a little remote and was difficult for the rest of our teachers to travel to regularly. We tried to keep the RTC going. But with their local teacher passed away, the students were also reluctant to come. Only a few students came there regularly. As they were
coming from a far away hamlet which was equal distance away from our Thomur RTC, we asked them to start going to the Thomur RTC. We finally took the decision to close the Poondi RTC by the end of December.


Teachers: Radha and Anusuya
Paired Schools: GHSS Seethanjeri and GHS Pondhavakkam.
RTC Strength: 80
School Strength: 495 + 340
Courses Offered: Digital literacy, Basic Programming, Web devlopment, Physical computing.

This is working as a two teacher RTC. However, one of the teachers, Anusuya, only works at the RTC and doesn’t visit the schools. Radha visits GHSS Seethanjeri as well as GHS Pondhavakkam.

Seetnanjeri RTC was one of the first two RTCs to be started on 19th Jan 2022. Many of the children come from feeder Primary and Middle schools where Asha has been teaching Computer Science. Therefore, some of the children could directly take the programming course and from that move to advanced courses.

Several of the students come from GHS Goonipalayam. Some of the students didn’t have money to travel by bus, but the school teachers supported them by giving them the bus charges

One of the students at Seethanjeri, Vinoth, couldn’t continue his school studies but then continues taking course in our RTC. He has completed Digital Literacy and won first prize in Asha Impression and Basic Programming also completed and now he is taking Physical Computing. Another student, Velu, is studying BCA. He completed digital literacy and basic programming at the RTC. As he doesn’t have access to any computer, he comes and uses the system in the RTC for learning python. The RTC teachers also help him in that.

Here are couple of photos of the centre.

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And here are couple of photos from the schools.

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Kanakamma Chathram

Teachers: Eswari and Yamini
Paired Schools: GHSS Kanakamma Chathram and GHSS Arcot Kuppam.
RTC Strength: 86
School Strength: 654 + 695
Courses Offered: Digital literacy, Basic Programming, Web devlopment, Animation.

Kanamanna Chathram RTC was also one of the first two RTCs to be started on 19th Jan 2022.

Teachers go to GHSS Kanakamma Chathram and GHSS Arcot Kuppam. Students come to this RTC from different hamlets served by these two schools including Puthur, Ramancheri, Muthukondapuram, VGK Puram, Kangammachathiram, Old Panapakkam, Arcot Kuppum, Ettiyanthangal, Illupur and Lakshmapuram.

One of the strengths of this RTC is that most of the students continue with the RTCs. 30 students have completed 3 courses in our RTC and are taking their 4th course now!

In Oct/Nov 2023, Tamilnadu Government conducted competitions (Kalai thiruvizha) at all government schools. One of the competitions was Digital Content Development. 4 of our RTC students from (GHSS KKC and Arcot kuppam) participated in that competition. They are selected to the district level competition. 1 of our RTC students, Sudharsan got selected to the state level competition. He comes from Muthukondapuram village. He didn’t know the computer handling before he joined our RTC. But he is studying 4th course in our RTC. The RTC impression competition for which all his projects were selected helped him do well in this.

Many of the students in this RTC come from Ramanjeri, an Asha supported school and come with a basic knowledge of computers and programming already. They have been very happy to join our RTC.

Here are couple of photos of the centre.

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And here are couple of photos from the schools including a visit by me back in September.

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Teachers: Nadhiya and Poonkodi
Paired Schools: GHSS Kannigaiper and GHS Athivakkam.
RTC Strength: 83
School Strength: 493 + 217
Courses Offered: Digital literacy, Basic Programming, Physical Programming and Web Development.

This RTC was started in July 2022. We initially paired out RTC with the GHSS Kannigaiper. As the strength of this school did not necessitate two teachers visiting all the days, one of our teachers started visiting GHS Athivakkam closer to her house.

Student from villages like Neyveli, Thirukandalam, Dhandamedu, Alapakkam, Athivakkam and Kannigaiper come to this RTC. Many of the children come here from Asha supported schools like Kannigaiper, Neyveli and Athivakkam. These children are able to directly take basic programming course and progress to advanced courses.

Many of the students coming to this RTC come from villages that do not have proper bus connectivity. Parents of these children take turns to bring the children to the RTC, stay till the end of the class and take them back. This has been one of the biggest supporting factor for this RTC.

Here are couple of photos of the centre.

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And here are couple of photos from the schools.

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Teachers: Vijitha
Paired Schools: GHS Thomur.
RTC Strength: 89
School Strength: 256
Courses Offered: Digital literacy, Basic Programming and Web Development.

This is a new single teacher RTC that was started in August 2023. We have a long history with Thomur. We have been supporting the primary school there for 10+ years. The school is in the same campus as the high school. The teachers from the high school have been requesting our support for a number of years. What is even more heart rending is when the students see us and ask us why we are not doing anything for them anymore!

Last year we were finally able to start engaging with the school again through the Explore program. The school was extremely supportive when we started the RTC here. Our teacher only visits this single high school. Thomur is a conservative village and the batches are either boys-only or girls-only! Our teacher there Vijitha has to deal with these issues of gender and caste as well as teaching the students Computer Science!

Student from villages like Thomur, Ramanjeri, Mettupalayam, Greenvel Natham, Valliyammapet and Kanchipadi come to this RTC. Most of these children attend GHS Thomur. Majority of the children come feeder schools which are supported by Asha like PUPS Greenvel Natham, PUPS Thomur, PUPS Mettupalayam and PUMS Ramanjeri. This is the reason why we have been able to directly launch the Web Development advanced course here.

One of our RTC students, Sivapriyan was selected as a winner for the state level Art Competitions which was held in the year 2022. As a result, he went to Singapore in September 2023. He has taken a Web development course in our RTC. Another student Madhumitha from Thomur is studying in Jaya Matriculation school and she has taken Digital literacy. She won First Prize in carrom board at the Thirutani zonal level in August 2023 and in District level she won Second prize on 2nd November 2023. She also won second prize in kho kho in Tiruthani zonal level.

Here are couple of photos of the centre.

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And here are couple of photos from the school.

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Teachers: Malarmathi and Gayathri
Paired School: GHSS Kalugumalai.
RTC Strength: 102
School Strength: 860
Courses Offered: Digital literacy, Basic Programming, Animation.

The teachers at Kalugumalai and Kayathar got exchanged because of their travel distances. Currently Malarmathi and Gayathri are running this RTC. They used to run the Kayathar RTC. His RTC was started in Jan 2023.

One of the key problems with this RTC last term was that even though a large number of students joined the RTC (250+), most of them were not serious about it and only about 37 students went on to complete their courses. This year we have made concerted efforts to only take in students who are committed to staying the full term.

Students come to this RTC from Kalugumalai itself as well as several villages neatby including Karadikulam, Chidhamparampatti, Thulukkarpatti, Veppankulam, Karisalkulam etc. From Chidhamparampatti, which is a little farther away, parents came to drop their students for first few weeks. After that students come by bus by themselves. Parents inform the teachers after sending the students to ensure their safety.

Seven of the students studied from 1st std to 8th std in PUMS Karadikulam which is an Asha supported school. Among those 2 students were selected for the ASHA Impression in 2023 which was held in PUMS, Kayathar. They are currently doing Animation course in Kalugumalai RTC.

A student from Kalugumalai RTC who is studying in Chidhamparampatti, participated in the “Kalai Thiruvizha” under the Digital Contents competition. She won in the block-level competition and she was selected for the district level. She told us that Learning computer in this RTC was very helpful to participate in the district level competition.

Here are couple of photos of the centre including one from my visit there in early October.

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And here are couple of photos from the schools.

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Teachers: Bhuvana Kirubadevi and Noorul Rifaya
Paired Schools: GHS Ayyanar Ootru.
RTC Strength: 145
School Strength: 343
Courses Offered: Digital literacy, Basic Programming and Animation.

This is working as a two teacher RTC and was started in Oct 2022. Like Kalugumalai, Kayathar RTC also faced the problem of many students joining who are not serious enough to continue till the end of the course. Here too, we have made concerted efforts to bring in serious students who will stay for the full course. The 43 students who completed last course and those who visited IIT in Chennai for the RTC Impressions are our brand ambassadors!

This RTC was originally started with the intention of working with the Veera Pandiya Kattabomman Higher Secondary School, a large government school right in Kayathar with close to 1000 students. But that has not worked out for various reasons. Our teachers are instead of travelling 8+ Kms to the high school in Ayyanar Ootru. As this has only 343 students, we plan to send out teachers to also do the basic teaching at another school at North Ilanthakulam also with similar strength.

Students from the nearby villages like Paneerkulam, Ayyanaroothu, Paneekarkulam, Suriyaminikkan, Thirumangalankuruchi, Vellalankottai, Nagalapuram, Karisalkulam and Kayathar are using our RTC.

The HMs from Karisalkulam and Thirumangalankurichi are taking lots of efforts by sending the students to our RTC even if the school is working on a Saturday. A student named Sudharani from Paneerkulam is learning the Digital Literacy Course in our RTC. Her father is an Auto driver. He is helping other students from that village by dropping and picking up them for a reduced fare. Another student Chinnathayammal from our RTC is helping her parents to run an E-Seva center in Kayathar.

Here are couple of photos of the centre.

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And here are couple of photos from the schools.

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RTCs in 2024

We will be continuing to run the above 6 RTCs. We hope to add two more RTCs – one near Periyapalayam (making that and the Kannigaiper RTCs single teacher RTCs) and one near Sankarankovil where one of our existing RTC teachers will be moving to. As opportunities come (both in terms of funding and teacher talent) we will start new RTCs in other locations.

With some hardware topping up assistance from IITM Pravartak, the current 6 RTCs are in a good position with respect to infrastructure. We would like to bring the two new RTCs also to the same level.

RTCs will continue to offer Basic Digital Literacy, Basics of Programming, Web Development, Physical Programming and Animation using JavaScript. But the courses offered by each RTC will change to give the opportunity for all students to take these advanced courses. The contents of the Basic Digital Literacy and Basics of Programming will be enhanced a little bit.

We are in the process of developing a few courses which will be offered starting from the next term.

Media Editing

This is offered as an advanced digital literacy course. There are many tools for editing photos, audio files, and videos, and for creating videos, collages, documents etc. These are found to be useful in a wide variety of careers. We hope to introduce students to these kinds of tools through free and online tools.
Intro to RoboticsIn this course the students will learn how sensors and actuators can be used together to make a Robot perform something. We may use the Circuit Playground Express cards that we are currently using to teach physical programming to move the students to the next stage of building their own Robots. We are currently evaluating the options available in terms of hardware to use for the course.
Artificial IntelligenceCode.org offers a mini-module on Artificial Intelligence which teaches the students how deep learning works. We plan to add to it practical knowledge of how to use Chat GPT, Dall-e, Bard and other popular AI tools. We further plan to teach the students how companies are using the AI tools and integrating it with other things that they are doing using prompt engineering.

RTCs currently conduct a rigorous one-hour exam on the computer to test the students. Their project work is also used as a component of their evaluation. In addition to these we are also planning to conduct sample base line and end line assessments based on the standardised assessments available at digitalliteracyassessment.org or something similar.

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