Children In Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki Madarsas Get Laptops, Dropout Rates Decrease

Laptops had renewed children's interest in school work, said teachers at the madarsa. (Representational image)

Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh:  For more than 50 years, Madarsa Noorul Makatib was synonymous with traditional and religious learning. But it all began to change in 2014 with just six laptops opening a window to a wider world – and resulting in fewer dropouts.

With the laptops providing internet connectivity to students, there has been a paradigm shift, both in terms of education being imparted and also student-teacher relations in the madarsa in Barabanki’s Tikaitganj area.

“It has really been a technical leap, as we have arrived in the era of internet from the days of radio. It is really nice to see that information technology is being used for educational purposes and the best part is that the students have welcomed it wholeheartedly,” said Mahmud-ul-Haque, manager of the madarsa.

The agent of change was The Integrated approach to Technology in Education (ITE), an initiative of the Tata Trusts.

The dropout rate at the madarsa went down from 18 per cent to 5 per cent, said ITE coordinator Swami Saran.

Madarsa Noorul Makatib is not the only one to have benefited from the programme, it has reached out to about 5,000 students in Islamic seminaries, mostly in Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, said Amina Charania, ITE head, Tata Trusts, and associate professor of Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Laptops had renewed children’s interest in school work, said teachers at the Madarsa Ansar-ul-Uloom in Barabanki’s Katra area. Attendance has surged.

“Integrated approach to Technology in Education as a teaching and learning tool came here about two-three years ago. There has been a nearly 20 per cent surge in attendance. Students are showing interest in studies, parents are relieved and, most important, there has been a significant improvement in the teacher-student relationship,” said Mohd Naseer-ul-Haque Ansari, an administrator at the madarsa.

He said students were eagerly waiting to go to Class 4 so they could get to work with laptops and make projects. “There has been a reduction in dropouts. Almost 80 per cent of students who joined in Class 1 have gone to Class 5. And children from other madarsas are coming here and seeking admission because of laptops.”

On an average, one laptop is shared by four students, said Ms Charania, giving details of the project.

These 25,000 students are spread across learning centres, government schools and madarsas all over India.

Integrated approach to Technology in Education fosters project-based learning to improve teaching and learning through technology. Currently, 18 partners in seven states implement Integrated approach to Technology in Education.

“For most children who had never seen a laptop, the first-hand opportunity to use them for making projects was certainly a special one,” said Mr Saran.

“Gradually, they started evincing interest in learning their routine lessons through computers. This eventually nurtured their thinking and also inculcated the habit of sharing among the students,” Mr Saran added.

Students have been using the internet for various things — to ascertain the distance between two places, dietary components in their food, history and geography of their native places, various prominent personalities and enhancing their general knowledge.

Mavia Masood, a student at Noorul Mukatib, for instance, said IT was helping them understand mathematical concepts.

“We first determined the area of the classroom, and then the size of a particular tile, which will be put there. Then using a spreadsheet, we divided both the areas, and it gave us the number of tiles which will be put in the classroom,” the Class 7 student said.

Students have also been using computers to make PowerPoint presentations on monuments. Others say they are using the Internet and spreadsheet tools to make weather charts.

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