August 2008

Resurgent Rajasthan Intel Initiatives Accelerating Progress

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From landscapes to lives, everything is changing in Rajasthan. Radiating unparalleled energy and optimism, the educational reforms in the state have gone a long way in driving social and economic progress. The Intel Initiatives with the state government have made it possible to accelerate this vision of 21st century education.

This transformation has been more revolutionary in the backward villages of Rajasthan where technological literacy has helped villagers deal with social and community problems like education and health, breaking social paradigms set for centuries. These bold initiatives and concerted efforts have opened up avenues and opportunities for growth, prosperity and self reliance, especially for women of the State.

Today the sand of the desert glows, rich, not with the color of the traditional past but the shining present.

Bharatpur, the premier Jat state in Rajasthan, is dotted with marvelous remnants of its royal past. Today, this historically rich but economically backward district is witnessing radical changes in its educational system. Through the Intel initiatives introduced in Aroda, a small village in Bharatpur, the poor farmers of the village see a brighter future for their children.

Education was not one of the topmost priorities in the village. A child at home meant an extra pair of hands to help in the fields. The transformation came about when the government school teachers were trained under Intel Teach. Using technology as a platform, (survey, rallies, door to door campaigns etc), these teachers brought about a change in the thought process of the villagers by making them aware of the benefits of education.

Laxman Singh, an Intel trained Master Trainer and his students, undertook a project where they created awareness on how an educated child could change the future of his entire family.

Their project not only motivated the elders of the village towards the necessity of education but also attracted more children to enroll in school.

Dungarpur district is the stronghold of the Bheels of Rajasthan. Predominantly tribal and extremely orthodox, their history of occupancy in the Aravalli's ranges back to 4000 BC. Their thinking – seeped in superstition and orthodoxy – had over the years reduced it to an illiterate tribal community.
Parshant Joshi and Jitesh Pandya, two teachers in the Government Upper Primary School Sanchiya, Dungerpur, trained on the project based learning concept under Intel Teach, started an educational project focusing on how to get rid of the evils of superstitions.

This age old orthodox way of thinking, they felt, was a hindrance to the development of the community. The Master Trainers are working to make the community literate so that they leave behind their superstitious practices and adapt new ways of life.

Yogita Joshi and Kushal Gamot are students of the upper primary government school in Vassi Khas, Dungarpur district. They have made their school, village and family proud by being the first ever merit holders from their small village in the district level exams.

Thanks to the Intel Teach Program which their teachers were trained on, the students of the school were introduced to the Encarta edition on the computer.

They were taught to use it for their projects, to add to their knowledge of topics in science like cell division , digestive system etc. and  to increase the gamut of their education system.

The students inculcated the Encarta in their school routine. This extra effort showed in their work when both Yogita and Kuskla became the first students from Vassi Khas to have attained a merit rank in the District Level board exams for the 8th standard.

The story of success for this village school does not stop here. The Intel Initiatives taught the students how to explore, to work collaboratively and to acquire skills for the 21st century. The result was that the school got better results than ever before and shone in the district for getting 100% pass percentage in the district level exams.

Yogita's father, a humble man who runs a general shop in the village has tears of happiness in his eyes.

'I have dreams for my daughter. She has outdone her brothers and we hope to see her do really well in the future. Maybe one day she can get a job also.'

This is the changing face of Rajasthan. Literacy amongst women has gone up by 30% since 1981.The Intel Teach initiatives of Rajasthan are creating a youth who is geared to meet the demands of the 21st century and can look forward to new vistas of employment and opportunity.

Through these projects the teachers are training their students to understand the cause and effect relationship between progressive thinking and social and economic development.

 Vassi Khas, also a village in the district of Dungerpur, has high fluoride content in its drinking water which is far above the 'safe for health' parameters. Fluoride, is a toxin with a rating slightly higher than that of lead and appropriate warnings have been issued by the government.

Even though this poor rural community suffers from various kinds of water related diseases, illiteracy makes them ignorant to the dangers they face or to home based solutions they can find to their problem.

Giri Raj Singh, a teacher in the government school of Vassi Khas, has trained under the Intel Teach Program and plans to involve his students in a health based project which focuses on the dangers of excess fluoride in water.

The students will analyse and work collaboratively to find out what can be done to safeguard health, using methods which are cost effective and can save lives.

By tapping into the children's interest in their community while developing their skills with creative technology driven projects, Gir Raj Singh is working innovatively to bring about development in his backward community.    

Sudhir Bhargav, Principal Secretary of School and Sanskrit Education, Government of Rajasthan, very aptly sums up the contribution of Intel when he says: 'The Intel Teach Program has not only made many of our teachers computer literate but also made them ambassadors of using technology for improving the delivery of educational services as well as to enhance the learning level.'

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