14 May 4 Ways to Improve Education in Rural Areas without Internet and Electrical Plugs
The easiest way to define rural areas is through the lowly populated density of the rural community, relative to more urban areas. Although it may be seen as rustic, serene and free from modern world problems, there are many complex issues that plague the people living in the rural areas. High poverty rates, unemployment, poor infrastructure, lack of proper housing, lack of transportation networks, little to no healthcare, poor electricity broadband connectivity and limited education, are just some of the problems you will face if you are living in a rural community.
Current Condition of Education in Rural Areas
It is clear that rural areas suffer from many problems that people living in first world countries would consider a basic necessity. If you are reading this, it is highly likely that you have already been through several education programs like preschool, high school, junior college or university. Did you know that most people from rural areas do not have the opportunity or resources to even attend a year of school? The education system is seriously lacking in many aspects and these are a few common problems that these schools will face in the rural areas. In this post, we will be looking at 5 ways to improve education in these rural areas without internet access and even electrical plugs.
The first problem is the school itself. Many of these schools are structured makeshift huts, with no real doors, windows or walls. With simple infrastructure, the schools in these rural areas are extremely prone to the natural elements like rain water leaking through roofs, mould developing in the walls and termites. Needless to say, there are also insufficient furniture, chairs and desks to cater to each child. How does one study or learn in these unconducive environments if you do not even have a table to write?
Community and financial status
Families in the rural community are living in poverty. They may not have enough money to send their children to receive a consistent education at the school, especially if the families are increasing in number and can no longer afford to pay school fees. As education is not perceived as priority to these communities, the bigger children drop out when they get older as their families want them to help out in the field or at home.
Can we all agree that a teacher plays the most important part in a child’s education? Teachers impart knowledge, creates curriculum and inspires the child to have a curious and eager spirit to learn. If you had a terrible teacher that made you lose interest in a subject and even skip their classes, you would understand what I mean.
There are many volunteer programs out there that bring in trained professional teachers or educated people to impart knowledge on the children. But most of the time, these are short term projects where the person helps out the community for a few weeks or months before returning to their regular lives. Most teachers from within the community are not academically trained or experienced enough to give the students a high quality education. In the case of an overcrowded classroom, the teachers are also unable to ensure each child will absorb the learning materials that were being taught that day.
Lack of materials
When we study in more privileged areas, we use laptops or tablets because the internet and electricity are easily available to us. Information can often be obtained with just a click of the mouse. However, things operate very differently in the rural areas. Some of the schools have a “computer lab”, but not like the fancy ones we have. Their “computer labs” are probably equipped with two or three old donated computers that are extremely slow due to poor connection or the sheer age of the computer.
In such conditions with little or no access to electricity and the internet, most of the time information has to be derived from physical textbooks. Students may not have enough money to purchase books and schools also would not have a large variety of books available. This limits the extent of knowledge that the students can learn.
How do we improve Education in Rural areas?
All these problems do seem very difficult to overcome, however here are 4 practical ways to improve the quality of education for these rural area communities. Below are some real examples of implementation for consideration.
1. Digi-Eskwela Project E-Learning Tablets
The Patatas is a group of social innovators who actively look for ways to alleviate problems faced by these rural and underprivileged communities. The Patatas is a subsidiary of the Singapore-based Potato Production that supports social enterprises. Through cutting-edge technology and digital solutions, The Patatas believe they can bring about positive change to these rural areas in innovative and efficient ways.
The Digi-Eskwela project introduces e-learning via tablets to children in the rural areas of Asia. The project focuses on gamification and mobile technology to supplement traditional classroom learning. By introducing tablets and weaving educational content into games, the children will be more engaged and eager to learn. The tablet acts as a platform for educational materials instead of physical textbooks and subjects or modules are preloaded according to the curriculum. Therefore schools and students would not need to spend extra money on purchasing textbooks when the information is available in a compact tablet. Teachers also undergo training to ensure they are well prepared to conduct lessons with the tablet.
Digi-Eskwela project in Tiwala has shown more than 50% improvement in numeracy and literacy skill. Tiwala teachers also gave positive feedback on how the children have improved their listening, reading, vocabulary and speed in mathematical problems.
Look at how the children have benefited from the Digi-Eskwela project!
Project Digi-Eskwela: Tiwala Scholar Mabeth’s Testimonial
2. Book donations
Other than cutting-edge technology of the Digi-Eskwela project and the CaseStudy, there are other easier ways to help the community improve their education, through books! The Industrial and Services Co-operative Society Limited (ISCOS) collaborated with The Patatas to launch the “ISCOS Book Corner” in 2016.
During the launch, David Seow, a local author that wrote 43 children’s books, was invited to conduct a storytelling session. The ISCOS Book Corner hopes to invoke passion and love for reading among the underprivileged children. The Patatas provided over 100 pre-loved books that were specially curated for a wide range of interests, such as storybooks, business, culture, leisure and even entrepreneurship.
However, as of now The Paatas are no longer focused in this area of service. Nonetheless, it definitely is a good way to improve education in rural areas that have no access to electricity and internet.
3. Volunteer programs
If you want to help out on the ground and be the one to make a change, join a volunteer program! The Patatas always have new and innovative ways to help out rural communities. One of the interesting projects was a collaboration with Red Pencil International to bring Art Therapy to the children in Tiwala.
You may ask, what is art therapy? It allows the children to use the power of creativity and art to express themselves in a way that words cannot. Many of these children live in poor conditions and are subjected to violence and helplessness. Art therapy hopes to help these children build self-empowerment and resilience to their overwhelming life circumstances.
The Art Therapists create a safe environment for children to express themselves and participate in the activities. The Tiwala teachers are also trained to conduct art therapy sessions, ensuring continuity and sustainability in the course, even after the Art Therapists leave. The Red Pencil International has also pledged to follow up every 3 to 6 months. As an update, as of now we have ceased our volunteering program to focus on serving communities through our CaseStudy project. Read more below!
4. The CaseStudy Project
In rural areas that are prone to natural disasters such as flash floods or hurricanes, school facilities such as “computer labs” get easily destroyed. Fixing or buying a new computer are just not a viable option for these schools.
The Patatas came up with a cost effective digital solution to help the teachers adapt to different locations without facing complicated logistical issues. “Case Study” is a fully customisable case with many features specifically catering to the needs of each school and community.
CaseStudy is a waterproof housing unit that is portable and easy to carry around. It contains electrical and digital equipment needed for classes, but don’t worry, it is also shock proof. You can toss it around a class and all the electronic devices inside will be safe and sound inside. It was designed with the consideration that in case of a natural disaster such as earthquakes or floods, the items inside will be intact. CaseStudy acts as a classroom itself, providing teachers with complementing audio/visual and information support that can be set up quickly with ease.
The Patatas created this invention for those communities with no access to the internet, so that teachers will be able to work offline using these technologies even in undesirable conditions. Without internet or electrical plugs, we can still improve education in rural areas using CaseStudy. Talk to us if you are interested to know more!