Living life in remote villages is tough. Not only are you often deprived of well-connected transport systems, stable electricity and Internet connection; basic necessities like food and clean, running water are difficult to come by. On top of these, remote villages face a struggle to upkeep an education system, with many facing low local staff numbers, dwindling enrolment rates and closures of local village schools. Take, for example, schools in remote villages in India. They face these problems and efforts are constantly in the works to improve this urgent situation, seeing as the traditional classroom structure does not seem to receive positive response in such areas today. So, to overcome this, what alternatives do we have to provide unique schooling to students in such villages? Let us take you through some options we collated, together!
What are some examples of Unique Schooling in Remote Villages?
1. Hands-on Outdoor Classes
In remote villages, it is important to keep in mind their circumstances. While traditional, mainstream school curriculums may work in urban areas, we have to realise that daily life in remote villages revolves more around nature rather than concrete cities. As such, unique schooling alternatives have been conducted to bring together a modern education and their daily lives. In Huay Pan, Thailand, children living in remote villages live over a 100 miles away from the nearest school and so, the Huay Pan Learning Centre has come up with schooling whereby the children learn not just the subjects offered by the Education Ministry but also outdoor classes on “soil, water, forest and food security”. This is to ensure that the children find their learning applicable to their lives, instilling in them a sense of curiosity and a desire to learn more by experiencing learning first-hand. Such an alternative has seen positive results and is much more likely to keep children in school due to the high engagement factor. No longer will students drop-out because their parents see no point in what they learn since these outdoor classes even increase their knowledge of how to help their parents or children in the future.
2. Relying on Non-Government Organizations
Another alternative to mainstream, locally-run schooling is the reliance on non-government organizations (NGOs). For example, in the case of remote villages in India, non-state organisations like NGOs often step in to aid the education system. It has been acknowledged that where the state fails for primary school education, in particular, NGOs have filled these gaps at cheaper rates. With NGO-run schools, remote villages find themselves nearer to educational facilities than ever before, improving the number of and accessibility of schools. India has seen works from the Rishi Valley Rural Education Centre, whereby multi-grade schools have been set up in different remote villages. They prepare their own projects and a curriculum which allows each child to learn at their unique speed for maximum learning effectiveness. Such NGO-run schools have been visited by government teachers and have acted as inspiration for change in the mainstream school systems; showing the impact and importance of NGOs in creating change in education, making them a more than viable alternative schooling option.
3. Use of Technology
Similar to the efforts in other schools across the globe, remote villages are offered the alternative of using technology in the classroom. This kind of unique schooling has been on the rise and is highly encouraged, seeing as the world is moving towards more modern, technology-run systems. Even these students in remote villages will find many benefits from using technology in classrooms to help them pick up relevant skills demanded in the job market. Honing abilities to use technology may thus, possibly allow them to exit the poverty cycle rather than sticking only to outdated pen and paper learning. We see the United Nations utilising technology for learning in refugee camps which are often in such remote areas. We have also witnessed a movement towards this unique schooling alternative used for remote villages in the Arab world; with the use of high-tech, offline Madrasa (translation: school) e-learning platforms. No matter where one may be in the world, no one can hide from technology’s influence and it is important to bring new technological skills into the classroom to allow these children to learn basic media literacy from young.
What do we suggest?
Given these unique schooling alternatives, all of us at The Patatas see great potential for education in remote villages despite the difficulties; and we think our organization could be of help in bringing these ideas to life!
The Patatas: Who are we?
As a social solutions consultancy, we work closely with our network of partners in various countries to create unique technology-based solutions for every community we reach out to. We see the importance of using modern technology innovatively and efficiently to improve the education of communities in need around the world, keeping them up-to-date with advancements. Some of our projects (past and present) include Digi-Eskwela where we brought e-learning to remote villages in Asia through the use of applications and tablets to an impressive 30% improvement in class numeracy and literary capabilities; art therapy sessions to help children and mothers in disadvantaged communities to overcome trauma; and Little UkeBox during which we provided ukulele lessons to encourage an all-rounded development of children. To find out more, you can check us out here!
All that said, we would like to highlight one of our ongoing projects: CaseStudy.
CaseStudy is a portable, customizable briefcase holding in it all the technological materials teachers in remote villages will need to conduct classes even with the resource constraints they face. Might we also add that it has waterproof and shockproof qualities? This makes CaseStudy fully durable and perfect for villages facing harsh weather conditions or natural disasters. It’s briefcase structure also makes it perfect for transporting around! There is even a mini version of CaseStudy available if you so wish. Check out our introduction video here to find out more.
What are the perks of the contents, you may ask?
Well, firstly, they are all neatly placed within CaseStudy which means zero hassle when setting them up or packing them back in. This prevents any time wasted from logistical issues and allows classes to run more efficiently. As for the contents themselves, our team has tested out many resources and have chosen those best catered to the situation in remote villages where electricity and the Internet may not be easily accessible. CaseStudy provides teachers with the ever-useful Raspberry Pi, which can hold a variety of files (PDF, PowerPoint, images, etc.) despite its small size.
Compared to using personal computers or tablets, using one Raspberry Pi for a whole class is a sure money saver for these villages. Besides, it does not require the Internet or constant electricity supply as it runs on a power bank or battery – perfect for village conditions. All the teacher needs to do it load their classroom materials into it prior to their lesson and connect the Raspberry Pi to a projector and speakers; and just like that, the material is made available to the whole class at once. This unique alternative use of technology in remote villages will no doubt make for effective classes.
Other accessories also include the portable speakers and projector which likewise, require no Internet or electricity to run (given the similar use of a power bank).
Their purpose is mainly to display the information within the Raspberry Pi, even in dimly lit classrooms due to power outages.
With all these different technological accessories coming together to create a cohesive, efficient experience, The Patatas has helped to bring a unique schooling experience to students in remote villages. Though we have yet to fully touch on the outdoor class unique schooling alternative, no doubt projects like CaseStudy can facilitate the learning there too. By providing local schools with the resources they need in collaboration with our partners, we have the capacity to introduce a new kind of classroom learning to these villages with the aid of technology. We are confident that the education of children in remote villages will improve using the alternatives we provide as we counter and overcome their constraints.
Just to end off, The Patatas is proud to be able to bring these unique schooling alternatives to fruition in remote villages. With our various projects like CaseStudy and the positive results they bring, we have experienced the benefits of cutting away from the mainstream classroom style to bring schooling to students in new, innovative forms. Our team is so excited to come up with more creative ideas as we work to expand our operations; and we hope to work with you to improve the lives of those in need! If you would like to work with us or help us as a sponsor feel free to email us or check us out on Facebook here; we hope to hear from you.