Dharavi Diary, an NGO situated within the third largest slum in the world, has power and Internet outages 3-4 times a month, which are exacerbated during monsoon. Children and teachers who attend the NGO’s after school learning sessions must rely on outdated textbooks when these outages happen.
Alongside teaching STEM education, Dharavi Diary offers more in the way of life skills and community development. Girls are being taught how to code and develop apps to share with their local communities. These apps are created and customised by the girls to target issues they have identified in the community, examples include one app that was created to combat the issue of violence against women.
The girls did not have a means to share these apps with the local community due to the relatively high costs of delivering the apps through the Google Play store. They were therefore creating the apps as a concept and not creating any impact from them.
BluPoint hubs were deployed into Dharavi on the 1st August 2017 alongside four University of Southampton students taking part in the SPARK India fellowship.
As a solar powered portable intranet hub BluPoint, contains a battery that will power it for 10 hours, supplying digital content when the Internet cannot. The BluPoint hub was placed in a backpack and worked as a roaming digital resources library. Local community members could connect to the hub on their phones and access the FileShare to download apps made by the students of Dharavi Diary completely for free, using no mobile data.
BluPoint hub was also loaded up with educational content to support the children’s learning within the Dharavi Diary centre during blackouts. This included content from open educational resources such as Khan Academy, OpenStax, and PHeT Interactive Simulations to name a few. This allowed teachers access to up-to-date resources they would usually access on the Internet to support their lessons.
BluPoint hub was a reliable delivery mechanism for content and as one teacher put it:
“Our education won’t stop because the internet is down”.
Teachers were also impressed with the +4G speed of delivery of learning materials to the classroom. Children were engaged with the interactivity of the resources and were asking for assessment materials by the end of the pilot.
Girls managed to deliver their apps to 76 devices in just two days by taking the BluPoint hub into the surrounding community with the SPARK India fellows. This was a success they would not have achieved easily without the BluPoint hubs FileShare, that did not incur any costs to the students or the NGO. The portability of the BluPoint hub also encouraged further engagement with the community for the SPARK India fellows and the girls who had created the apps specifically for them. A quote from one of the SPARK India fellows reads:
“The Blupoint Hub proved to be an invaluable tool in the slums of Dharavi. It enabled the children to access educational content when there was no internet connection and provided a platform where apps created by the children could be used by the wider Dharavi community.”
~ Feba Kollanoor
Student of the University of Southampton and SPARK India Fellow of 2017.
The teachers saw great potential for the FileShare system, developed specifically for this pilot, Pathik Pathak, the founder of SPARK India, noted its “game-changing” capabilities. After only a week into the pilot, teachers were requesting that they can also share PowerPoints and Word Documents on the FileShare to enable delivery of their own teaching resources to their students without connecting to the Internet.
Nawneet Ranjan, the Founder of Dharavi Diary, clearly saw the potential for the BluPoint hub’s portability. Following the pilot’s end in August, Nawneet has plans to place BluPoint hubs on a bus that he will drive around as a mobile classroom for the surrounding communities, with the Blu Network being the curriculum provider to all devices and students.
We look forward to supporting Nawneet and Dharavi Diary on this exciting endeavour, and we thank the SPARK India fellows for their support in this pilot.
Photo credit: Joe Rowland