Are you waiting for the government to take care of you?
What is your responsibility as a citizen of this country?
Would you like to see change but don't know where to begin?
This is the story of Prem Kumar
who went on a journey to answer some of these questions. He had a cushy job in a European country, worked with global clients and was climbing up the corporate ladder. Life was comfortable.
But when he visited India, he could not come to terms with the reality that stayed stagnant over decades. Harsh realities like - people still were breaking traffic rules, education still having multifold issues and garbage being massively mismanaged really threw him off.
This was a trigger enough for him to quit his job and started Kalvi40
, a mobile app, that offers content in Tamil in audio and video formats to make lessons easy and consumable for children of Government schools and underprivileged rural schools of Tamil Nadu.
What does Kalvi40 do?
Prem took his time to visit many village and district Government schools before he could formulate what the problems of the education system are. And he distilled it to:
Remedial Help: 40-60% of kids need remedial help as they are the average or below average students. Schools and parents are not able to support them. As a result, these kids lose faith and drop out. They end up going to work with their parents so as to contribute to the household income.
Poor student-teacher ratio: Government schools usually have 60-70 students per classroom and are being handled by one teacher. On the other hand, sometimes, the school has only 60 students but they spread across 1-to 8th classes and the school has only 2 teachers allotted. It becomes almost impossible for teachers to manage and deliver effective lessons across the board.
There are teachers who are highly motivated, do a fabulous job, and have won awards or have been recognized by the education board. But the next village or the next school will have less-than-average teachers who are merely in it for the security of a job. The deviations are too high.
To address these problems, Prem developed Kalvi40, a digital initiative that helps students learn at their own pace by engaging in short video lessons followed by practice tests for knowledge checks which helps them evaluate their own understanding and course correct. And this has helped teachers
They were also mindful about keeping the videos short and light so that they can easily be watched even in areas with poor connectivity.
The mobile app is free for all and advertisement free. You can simply download within India and start using it.
In case the students don’t have access to smartphones, Kalvi40 also came up with an idea for school implementation. Generally teachers in rural areas have android smartphones. Kalvi40 team provides hardware & adapters to screen the audio & video from the teacher’s mobile phone to any available screen (an old TV set, computer screen or a projector screen) available in the school. Due to this, rural Government schools students have the facility to watch Kalvi40 digital content at their school premises.
Apart from the course curriculum, Kalvi40 also has everyday riddles, moral stories and general topics that can broaden students’ knowledge, and increase skill & language development. Some of the themes include English made easy, Learn French / Spanish through Tamil, Improve your reading habits, Puppet storytelling, Awareness about nature etc.
Managing Education in These Covid Times…
Understandably, a huge part of Kalvi40’s success depends on the quality of content developed. With the pandemic sweeping through the country, they had to take a pause as most of their teams as well as students were directly or indirectly affected.
During this time, Prem and his team reached out to the various Tamil associations across the globe and roped in many volunteers to contribute to this cause. Tamil people from many countries, including Japan, USA, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Fiji, Egypt & UAE, came forward. Kalvi40 trained them in Kalvi40 designed video creation methods and editing to create the output they had in mind. As on date, Kalvi40 team and volunteers have created close to 4200+ videos and are available free in the mobile app!
And to keep the kids engaged during the times when schools are shut, Kalvi40 conducted a summer camp that had 156 participants across 10+ districts who were chosen from various schools based on their internet access. Different activities like Origami, storytelling, craft using waste, etc. were taught during the 15 days camp. It was a great success and children got a chance to engage and showcase their creative talent.
Simultaneously, they also conducted online motivational classes for Government school teachers across 10+ districts. Kalvi40 volunteers who were experts in the fields of mental well-being and emotional health conducted these sessions over a 3-month period. The topics ranged from how to deal with students to personal stress management. They got an overwhelming positive feedback from the teachers as they felt that they learnt a lot of finer tips and broader understanding on how to deal with themselves and their students during these turbulent times. Seeing the success of these sessions, many districts are requesting similar sessions for their teachers.
In March 2021, they conducted a 2 days Robotics workshop for 18 rural schools teachers & students from 4 districts. Post that, online sessions were conducted on a weekly basis. They used YouTube Live to present some of the students’ creations where they talked about their experience and learnings. Truly it’s a new hands-on experience for Teachers & students and helps to unearth the hidden potential of students and rural schools.
Conclusion: What the future holds...
Prem has an ambitious goal of reaching and impacting 2000 schools and one lakh kids. He also hopes to stabilize and streamline the effort of Kalvi40 before exploring new territories.
During these difficult times, let us help one another and open our hearts to be generous and donate to help our rural communities. If you want to sponsor digital education to a rural Tamil student, click here
to make a donation.
The pandemic is really changing our present and future in ways we still can't completely understand. And children, especially in rural areas, are going to feel the hit of it.
While frontline medical warriors try to save the nation, many small enterprises and individuals are making the effort to help people in their own way.
And we, at FlexiBees, want to honour and amplify their effort by sharing their stories. If you want to read more such stories, check out the work done by Crafting Our Lives, Educate Girls