“I want to be a cardiologist. I couldn’t even dream of doing that until I started this program.”

A sleepy town in Barmer, known for its salt pans in the Thar desert is also a home to the STEM for Girls program in Rajasthan where 13-year-old Anita Kumari had just one goal – to study hard and help her mother, Teejo Devi. Having lost her father at a tender age, she realized the importance of supporting her mother – a homemaker.

Anita and her mother depend financially on Anita’s uncle, who had been supporting Anita’s education in a private school. However, COVID-19 induced a financial crisis, leaving them with no recourse but to move Anita to a government school. Enrolled in the Girls Senior Secondary School, Barmer, Anita discovered AIF’s Digital Equalizer program. “Thanks to Digital Equalizer, even during the pandemic, students like me who had no access to digital and smart devices, continued to learn through the online and door-to-door sessions.”

In a country like India, with a deep digital divide and educational inequalities, COVID-19 further disrupted quality education delivery to underserved children across the country. Pivoting its approach,
Digital Equalizer (DE) adopted virtual engagement integrated with a blended teaching-learning model, to ensure that learning losses are curtailed. For students and teachers who lacked access to digital and smart devices, DE bridged the gap through community/remedial classes, tablets and pen drives loaded with digital content, and worksheets that could be accessed through a set-top box.

DE integrates technology into underperforming and under-resourced public schools, training teachers in technopedagogy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) methodology. Classrooms are thus transformed into collaborative and interactive places, while preparing students for success in the 21st Century’s global economy. As the pandemic continues, DE continues to empower teachers and motivate students towards STEM learning to create young minds who can ‘imagine, invent and inspire.’

Shreya comes with thirteen years of experience in the field of communication, management, business development, marketing and advocacy, across development and private sectors. As a Board Member looking after Communication and Strategy for “Reach Out & Pass It On Foundation”, she has been a proponent of improved access to opportunities in the field of education and livelihood to the under-served communities over the last decade. She has her Masters in English Literature as well as Entrepreneurship Management and has represented her organization among cohorts of Policy and Communications leaders from across the world.

As a Dot Connector, her work experience as a communications and advocacy lead has led her to gainfully collaborate with government bodies and international organizations/entities like USAID, Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom, Atlas Network and WWF, employing a compelling mix of theoretical insights and analytical tools, poised to deliver critical application of communication mediation in the new media ecology.

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