It is not a very unknown fact that school education in rural India is in shambles, with no practical upgrade of the teaching methods, insufficient teachers, appalling infrastructure and lack of motivation among both students and teachers. Armed with an obsolete syllabus and trained in the traditional style of theoretical learning, the teachers fail to kindle interest in education among the students. “It is a pity that they are teaching the same old things, in the same old manner as it was in our childhood,” shares Abhishek Dubey, the founder & CEO of Muskaan Dreams Foundation.
“The education system in these schools are highly impractical. These students, lacking in practical knowledge, fail to secure a minimally decent job after passing out,” he adds with concern in his voice. Driven by the determination to change the scenario, Abhishek Dubey and Rishi Raj, the main pillars of Muskaan Dreams Foundation, have taken up the project to build 100 digital classrooms in 75 government schools in Bhopal, Gwalior and Indore of Madhya Pradesh.
The start of Muskaan
“The idea of doing some good for the society, especially in the field of education, was lurking in my mind since forever. After my college, I finally decided to concretise it and thus the birth of Muskaan Dreams Foundation in 2014,” Dubey shares with Efforts For Good. Their extensive network of volunteers has taught, mentored and benefitted hundreds of children till date.
Dubey, born and brought up in a small village in MP, was well-aware of the dilapidated state of schools in his area. While wondering about ways of infrastructural improvement, he felt that digitisation is the need of the hour. So on the third anniversary of Muskaan in 2017, the team decided to incorporate digital learning facilities in village schools. As their pilot project, they converted a government school in Chinnor village of Gwalior into a digital school propelled by e-content and interactive learning provisions. With assistance from the Ministry of Rural Development, the school underwent an overall transformation with extraordinary success in the days to follow.
Minister of Rural Development Narendra Singh Tomar extended his gracious help in painting the schools, under the Sansad Adarsh Gram initiative. Books were replaced by digital media, dust-laden attendance registers replaced by highly accurate apps and practical learning models for ‘Developing Life Skills’ were introduced for children from families with limited means.
Building 100 Digital Classrooms
In June 2018, Muskaan Dreams Foundation kickstarted their project for building 100 digital classrooms. “In about a month’s time, the construction work will be completed. We are aiming to benefit 12000 children and 300 teachers,” informs Dubey.
The question might arise about the efficiency of the teachers in the digital mode of teaching, who are accustomed to books and blackboards. So, Muskaan Dreams Foundation ensures that all the teachers are trained about digital pedagogy as well as proper hardware usage
Lack of subject-based teachers is also another persisting drawback in rural government schools. Muskaan team hopes the digital classrooms will bridge that gap effectively. Their field associates supervise the progress of these programmes in each school.
Fostering a secured future
“The whole world today operates on computer and internet. So we coach our students about basic digital usage like MS Office, net surfing, Gmail, Wikipedia etc so that they get a global exposure,” he shares. The essence is to sharpen their functional skills so that they grow up to be indispensable additions to the skilled workforce of the country.
Muskaan Dreams Foundation also plans to initiate the “Rural Entrepreneurship” programme for children between six to ten years of age to hone their problem-solving outlook. They will be subjected to find innovative solutions to problems existing in their own villages. Mission 2023 of the organisation eyes the digitisation of 1000 classrooms in government schools.
With the whole world undergoing a wave of digital revolution, such an initiative at the grass-root level education was long due. Efforts For Good salutes the spirit of Muskaan Dreams Foundation and wishes them the best for all their upcoming endeavours.