World’s Largest Census?

OneWorld South Asia just published a great piece by Bappa Majumdar on India’s preparation for one of the world’s biggest ever censuses. This once in ten-year exercise is an important national report card, especially to understand the impact that the growing economy has on the country’s population. The scale of the effort is somewhat mind-blowing:

Millions of volunteers and census officials will visit every household around the country in the next few years to gather information on jobs, education and quality of life.

India’s population is projected to grow to 1.19 billion in 2011 from 1.13 billion in 2008, according to census authorities.

Media and Technology for Supplementary Education

Two stories display how there are possibilities for creativity in supplementing Indian education and providing more options for students. OneWorld South Asia reports on FM stations in Bihar that will set up shop in high schools:

The channels would host phone-in programmes featuring guest lectures, career counselling, and quizzes based on general and subject knowledge.

Another approach is E-education, an alternative to rising tuition costs. Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) would allow an interactive and flexible option for for students. While this approach would only be available to those with television and a subscription to BSNL, this is the first time such technology would be used on a mass scale in the country. The next steps would be figuring out how to make this tool accessible to all segments of the population.

Mid-Day News Feed

  • Oneworld South Asia highlights that India’s strategy to combat Multi Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) might be failing to stop the spread of the disease. There are 2.2 million new cases of TB every year.
  • The CGAP Microfinance Technology Blog picked up a story from Business Standard on Andhra Pradesh government’s plan to provide rural pensions through the mobile phone network
  • iGovernment reports that BSNL, the state owned telecom provider, plans to roll-out broadband connectivity to Community Service Centres (CSCs) and other e-Governance locations in 25,000 villages across India

Constructing educated children, fundraising event

In an unusual initiative, Pratham has begun a targeted effort to educate the children of construction workers in Pune. Pratham enlists the help of specially trained teachers that go to the construction sites themselves or even teach on the nearby crowded streets (From OneWorld South Asia).

Every day, between 3 to 7 pm, groups of children aged between four and fourteen are enthusiastically urged to recite rhymes, read English lessons, attempt basic arithmetic and speak the Queen’s language … For a majority of these children, the concept of education is a novelty. They admit that they have never ever seen the inside of a classroom.

Targeting a constituency where parents may not necessarily see the immediate value of educating their children, Pratham had to use persistence and persuasion to get their message across.

“It has been a tough task to start this project because the parents had to be first convinced about the need to send them here for schooling. They were not interested because they thought it would be a waste of time. Most of these children did not have birth certificates and so our primary job was to get this documentation done because we would eventually like to enrol them in mainstream schools,” states Suman Mane, one of the teachers trained by Pratham.

More after the jump, and information regarding Pratham’s fundraising event in New York City.

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Condoms and Kabbadi

Building off of the momentum from a first campaign that reached 18 million men in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, a new effort — funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — will use the game of kabbadi as its medium:

The campaign’s TV advert shows a kabaddi match in which the protagonist wins the match against a macho team by chanting ‘condom’ instead of kabaddi… The campaign will run across TV, radio, cinema, outdoor and print over a six-week period… It will also feature an interactive element with an SMS poll in print media around the core message of the campaign.

By the end of the campaign, 48 million men are expected to be reached, with 6.5 million of them high risk individuals. While the method is no doubt unorthodox, research has shown that by forcing men to speak about condoms it is a significant affect on their choices with regard to practicing safe sex.

A baseline survey has already been carried out in the four target states to assess existing knowledge, attitudes and practices related to condoms.

An endline survey will be carried out at the end of the campaign to measure progress on increasing positive attitudes and changing behaviour around condom use among men.

Source: OneWorld South Asia

Building Critical Links, One Rural Teacher at a Time

While India’s national economy booms, educational disparity between rural and urban areas remains a major issue of concern, specifically in terms of resources, infrastructure, and funding. Despite the Indian government’s attempts at ameliorating the problem through increased rural education funding and targeted programs such as the Mid-Day Meals Scheme, illiteracy levels in rural India remain alarmingly high.

Lifelines Education aims to address these educational disparities through an innovative marriage of technology and knowledge sharing between key actors in the educational system. The critical players in this program are rural teachers, who are connected to a network of educational experts through a phone-based academic support service. According to OneWorld South Asia, the program is currently under operation in the Monteswar Block in the Bardhaman district of West Bengal, where it is servicing a total of 13 panchayats, 164 villages, and 571 schools. As a result of the program, a total of 600 elementary school teachers are linked with educational experts through an interactive voice response system that functions through normal phone, the internet, or mobile phone. A more detailed description of the program follows, courtesy of ShareIdeas:

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