Rural Technology Centres

Project Brief: Rural Technology centers are a joint initiative of IIT Madras and Asha to take good quality technology education to remote rural areas.
Project Type: Working with the Government (description)
Primary Focus: to go to formal school (description)

Secondary Focus: other

Area: Rural
Supporting Chapter Contact: Chennai
Status: current / ongoing
Project Steward: Rajaraman Krishnan
Project Partner(s): Venkat Ramasamy
Other Contacts:
Project Address: , Asha Chennai, 85/2 Luz Avenue First Floor, Mylapore Chennai ,adjacent to viswa dental clinic,chennai,
TAMIL NADU  600004
Tel: 94444 04060
Stewarding Chapter: Chennai
Oct 2023ChennaiINR 840000

Total = $18312

Asha for Education, Chennai has formed a partnership with Pravartak (subsidiary of IIT Madras)
to establish Rural Technology Centers to provide world class technology education to children from remote rural areas who do not have access to that kind of education. It is aimed at children in classes 6 to 12. As of July 2023, we are running 7 RTCs, 5 in Thiruvallur District and 2 in Thoothukudi District. We hope to expand these to many more centres over time.

Technology affects almost every aspect of life in today’s world. Access to healthcare, paying for services, information about farming, traveling using maps are all made easier with technology. However, access to quality technical education is sadly lacking in our villages in India, since the personal technical resources are expensive and there is a dearth of technical skills in these villages to impart knowledge. The current computer science curriculum in high schools is too broad and the impetus to complete the curriculum creates an environment where the ability for the student to understand the material and use it effectively is sacrificed.

Asha has been working with elementary and middle schools since 2015 to educate students in both digital literacy and computational thinking. Asha has used advanced block based programming tools like Scratch from MIT and Blockly from Google to teach programming. These tools are so easy to use that the middle school students have both mastered these in a few short weeks and shown tremendous enthusiasm in learning. Asha expects to build on this expertise by using proven methodologies like the curriculum from that have been used and tested in other countries successfully. We also intend to use IIT’s experience and expertise in quality technical education.

Asha’s program will consist of three parallel strategies.

1. Partner with Govt High/Higher Secondary Schools

In the government schools Asha teachers will teach introductory digital literacy and programming to children in classes 9 and 10. This will be continued for non-computer science students in the 11th and 12th std. For students taking Computer Science or Computer Applications in their 11th and 12th std, the current syllabus is very demanding and the schools tend to focus more on theory and less on practical implementations so they can get through all the materials within the given time. Unfortunately, when it comes to actual programming or project work, the children are left with no experience. Asha will focus on providing support to the children to learn actual programming with computers and execute projects using that knowledge.

2. Advanced Courses in the Centres

The Rural Technology Center will be located in the same villages. Here too we will offer courses to 9th to 12th standard students. The goal of these centers is to make the children comfortable with the use of technology by providing both digital literacy skills and computational thinking skills. Our foundational coursework will follow the guideline provided by internationally acclaimed curriculum. We will enhance this with additional courses on programming hardware devices like IoT and sensors using microcontrollers like Raspberry PI and Arduino Boards. We will also provide introductory courses on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Virtual Reality and so on.

3. Serve as a Digital Library / Resource Centre

At times when courses are not going on in the centres, they will serve as a digital library. Children can come there and play educational games, and use the computers in any other way with the supervision of the centre teachers. Asha will also acquire cool tools and provide them in labs to stoke the curiosity in young minds. Tools will include 3D printers, small robots that can be programmed and drones that can be used for multiple purposes. We hope to create a generation of digitally literate people in these areas. Short adult digital literacy courses will also be offered from these centres.
Provide best quality education in technology (primarily computer science) to children from poor rural areas where they do not have access to such education. 
Asha-Chennai is a chapter of ‘Asha for Education’ based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. It is run entirely by an action group formed to catalyse socio-economic change in India through the education of underprivileged children.