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Shiv Nadar Foundation Unveils Shiksha Kiran - an Initiative That Takes the School to Rural Students in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Business Wire India

  • The literacy initiative will work to empower local and disadvantaged communities in India’s heartland where virtual learning is not possible
  • The interactive multimedia-enabled mobile literacy program will facilitate learning across rural UP over 15-weeks
  • The first phase covering 36 villages was launched by Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Chairperson, HCL Technologies and Trustee, Shiv Nadar Foundation
The Shiv Nadar Foundation, a philanthropic initiative of Mr Shiv Nadar, Founder, HCL - a US$ 9.9 billion leading global enterprise, today unveiled a mobile rural literacy initiative - Shiksha Kiran, a program that will bring mobile classrooms to the doorsteps of students and adults across rural Uttar Pradesh. In the first phase, the program will use specially designed vehicles to cover 36 villages across the districts of Dadri and Sitapur in UP, reaching out children and adults who have lost access to education and literacy opportunities due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Shiksha Kiran is a part of the Shiksha Initiative which was started in 2012 with a mission to create a literate and empowered India.
The first mobile learning unit was flagged-off by Ms. Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Chairperson, HCL Technologies and Trustee, Shiv Nadar Foundation in the presence of Mr Robin Sarkar, Project Director, Shiksha Initiative.
The Shiksha Kiran learning units will work to bridge the education delivery gap that has arisen because of the pandemic and will cover key learning inputs aimed at primary school students. The program will also deliver adult education and awareness programs across the target villages. This becomes even more relevant because virtual learning in rural India, especially for children from disadvantaged communities is a challenge due to the lack of access to computers or smartphones.
Given India’s high rate of school drop-outs, seen primarily among girls and children from economically disadvantaged families, the Shiksha Kiran initiative has also been designed to help primary school students retain their interest in learning and inspire them to continue their education. The program seeks to achieve key learning outcomes including fine motor skills, sensory observation, critical thinking, analyzing, counting concepts, English alphabet and more, during the 15-week program. This curriculum has been designed in conformity with the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) Syllabus (Grade 1 to 3). Students will be taught in specially fabricated classrooms (in open areas, under canopies) via specialized teaching learning materials (TLM) such as audio-visuals, games and activities using the local (Hindi) language. Enabling the delivery of this are the Shiksha Kiran vehicles, equipped with mass teaching tools such as a large screen and loudspeakers, while lessons will be imparted by an instructor and an assistant to small batches ensuring social distancing and hygiene requirements.
For adults, the program is designed to also include life skills and information on innovative agricultural practices such as farming of medicinal plants, Aloe-Vera farming, animal husbandry, dairy business and more. Participants will also be regularly made aware of the latest government schemes and policies especially designed for rural India.
At the flag-off, Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Chairperson, HCL Technologies and Trustee, Shiv Nadar Foundation said, “The Shiv Nadar Foundation has several initiatives for transformative education. Shiksha is our youngest program aimed at making primary school education engaging for young students using ICT. With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting education especially in rural India, where hosting virtual classes is also a challenge, we decided to take the school to the students. This is a unique initiative that will help ensure that young students do not miss out on their learning journey in these challenging times.”
Robin Sarkar, Project Director, Shiksha Initiative shared, “The Shiksha Initiative was started to improve learning and retention outcomes among primary school students by leveraging Information Communication Technologies (ICT). Over the last eight years, our efforts have shown visible results by significantly enhancing learning outcomes in 54,000 students in over 650 schools and training close to 1500 teachers in using ICT to make the pedagogy more effective and engaging. I am confident that with Shiksha Kiran, we will continue to make learning exciting and effective for students who join the program.”
As part of the pilot program, classes will be held for primary school students and adults in separate batches, with each batch attending two classes a week. Each mobile learning unit will cover four villages daily.

About Shiksha Initiative
Vision: “Literacy for an inclusive and empowered society”. 

Shiksha Initiative (Elementary Education program) was started in 2012 with a mission to create literate and empowered nation. Leveraging Shiv Nadar Foundation’s expertise in transformational education and utilizing HCL’s technology prowess, Shiksha Initiative has created an ICT-based intervention which has the potential to enhance the quality of education, enrich the learning process and deepen the skills to motivate and engage students effectively. It endeavors to overcome the existing educational challenges by introducing interactive content and periodic assessments, making the process of learning more interesting, fun and effective. Currently, Shiksha Initiative has operations in Sitapur, Gautam Buddha Nagar and Bulandshahr with an objective to create a model which is easily replicable, scalable and measurable.

Furthermore, in 2016, Shiksha Initiative was strategically extended for adult literacy through Shiksha+. Shiksha+ also uses an ICT-based methodology to instil the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic skills in illiterate adults who have not attended a formal school. Learners in Shiksha+ program vary in culture, age, socio-economic status, language, gender, motivation, ability/disability and personal interests.
About Shiv Nadar Foundation
Established in 1994, by Shiv Nadar, Founder, HCL - a US$ 9.9 billion leading global technology enterprise, the Foundation is committed to the creation of a more equitable, merit-based society by empowering individuals through transformational education, and to bridge the socio-economic divide. Over the last 26 years the Foundation, has directly touched the lives of over 30,000 alumni and students through its marquee institutions in literacy, K12 and higher education. Today, the Foundation has a community of over 100,000 constituents, which includes not only globally dispersed alumni and students but also faculty members, corporate executives, and extended families.
The Foundation has invested ~$1bn in its six landmark institutions and initiatives across education and art. Currently over 12,600 students and over 2,000 faculty are part of the Foundation along with around 19,000 strong globally dispersed alumni community.
The Foundation’s students have gone to study at some of the best institutions globally including the Ivy League in the US and top universities in other countries including Australia, Singapore, China and UK. Students are also working across major corporations, including Goldman Sachs, Honda, HP, Schindler, and several others both in India and across other geographies. Faculty across the Foundation institutions are drawn from the best Indian and international universities, with a strong focus on research and innovation. 
The Shiv Nadar Foundation pursues the philosophy of 'Creative Philanthropy'. It is a powerful model which envisages creation of institutions that are built to last and continue to impact future generations. It is an approach that allows sustained institutionalized philanthropy for long-term, high impact, socio-economic transformation.

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