As it became increasingly evident that the nation-wide lockdown could have a detrimental impact on student learning, the Government of Himachal Pradesh started planning a “study from home programme” for government school students. Launched on April 9, the ‘Har Ghar Pathshala’ programme has been a pioneering initiative of the state government to minimize the impact of Covid-19 on student learning. The programme entails content curation and dissemination to students digitally. Recently, the state also introduced an AI-based assessment system using a chatbot to gauge absorption of the content taught so far. The resounding success of the Har Ghar Pathshala programme, however, is the consequence of a robust review and monitoring mechanism built using OpenSource tools.
In order to understand this monitoring mechanism, it is important to place it against the context of the government school system of Himachal Pradesh. The state has approximately 15,000 schools, employing nearly 60,000 teachers and imparting education to more than 9 lakh students from classes 1 to 12. While a number of schools, students and teachers are located in relatively well-connected districts such as Shimla, Una and Kangra, many schools in the state are located in remote districts such as Kinnaur and Lahaul & Spiti.
After considering various mediums to effectively reach out to students and ensure they keep learning during the lockdown, the state decided on a combination of WhatsApp (for daily content dissemination) and an online microsite (for daily content curation). State resource groups consisting of teachers have been set up to create learning content (videos and worksheets) on a daily basis. A cascaded model of communication through WhatsApp from the state to school level has been developed to transmit daily content to teachers and students. All this study material is also uploaded on the website created for this campaign.
Given the scale of the programme and the different levels of communication, it was essential for the state to effectively monitor its implementation on a daily basis. Some of the key considerations in this respect are the daily outreach to schools, teachers and students, the rating of content by teachers, ensuring that the website link is transmitted to students etc. Keeping the goal of maximum coverage and teacher compliance in mind, a daily monitoring form was created.
The form has been in use since the commencement of the programme on April 9. Some of the key questions that teachers need to answer daily in the form include:
After an initial increase in coverage in the first week, the form is now being filled by nearly 42,000 teachers in the state (out of a total of 60,000) on a daily basis, covering more than 5 lakh students (more than 50% of the 9 lakh students). The form has been completely developed using OpenSource tech components. This is the first time that an OpenSource tool has been deployed at such a large scale on a daily basis in a Samagra engagement. The data collected from this daily monitoring form is helping the state derive key insights such as:
All these data points are available to the state on a daily basis, helping the government identify laggard districts and blocks, and take timely corrective action.
When the programme was rolled out, in the initial few days, it was a mammoth task to orient thousands of officials and teachers on the website and monitoring form and manage the large amount of data that was being collected on a daily basis. The state government had to rapidly adapt to the situation and be responsive to feedback and queries from the ground. However, to ensure the Har Ghar Pathshala programme continued to run smoothly, Samagra’s Samarth team worked with the Himachal government in mitigating these challenges at an equally fast pace.