Helping India Achieve the World’s First Universal High- Quality Education Ecosystem
Education is every child’s fundamental right.
Education empowers children to make their place in the world, on their own accord.
Education is the biggest equalizer of modern times.
And yet, 35 million children from low-income or socio-economically disadvantaged communities in India are unable to access quality early education. Scientific evidence shows that a child’s brain develops rapidly in the first 3 years, building millions of neuronal connections every day. In the absence of stimulation, however, they fade away. Holistic development, in this case, suffers and children are left fundamentally limited in their readiness for school and life.
Parents’ attitude and awareness towards Early Childhood Education (ECE), coupled with their own educational qualifications and occupation, heavily influence the first 1000 days of a child’s life. In low-income communities, the family unit, amidst their daily struggles with poverty, continues its pattern of deprioritizing early education, leading to steadily declining learning outcomes once the child is in the formal education system.
This not only demotivates the child but also affects the family’s chance at social mobility and costs India a well-rounded citizen, capable of accelerating its growth and development.
But not everything is gloom and doom.
The world’s most populous country has another advantage besides the demographic dividend that will elevate it into a middle-class economy - its 1.39 million Anganwadi centers, where 1.3 million Anganwadi workers provide daily supplementary nutrition and provide day-care facilities to 80 million low-income household children. Anganwadi workers, traditionally women, are 8th, 10th or 12th grade graduates, qualified to impart play-based early stimulation to the children in their care.
Breaking-away from their roles as only “porridge women”, Anganwadi workers are integral to communities and exercise influence as local role models. By taking away the burden of finding quality resources to teach, upskilling, and empowering them in their roles as catalysts of behavior change amongst parents, Anganwadi workers can herald a new age in India’s foundational learning paradigm.
And that’s exactly what Rocket Learning aims to facilitate.
Recognizing the importance of early educators in a child’s life and the need to harness the “window of opportunity” that is the first 3 years, our solution targets Anganwadi workers and parents, and encourages behavior change through the AIM model
A - Awareness of the criticality of ECE and their own agency.
I - Information to aid them with creating enjoyable learning experiences.
M - Motivation to build a habit of supporting children's learning
Through low-touch technology platforms like WhatsApp, Anganwadi workers are sent developmentally aligned pedagogical teaching activities and goals on groups, in line with National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and National Curriculum Framework for Foundational Stage, to achieve each week by Rocket Learning’s AI bots. Youtube links, videos of activities to be conducted in class and worksheets, are shared on a daily basis. The workers are then encouraged to share videos and photos of the activities conducted on the group to create a community of inspiration and social pull.
Professional in-person and hybrid training are conducted to improve Anganwadi workers’ curriculum awareness, they are instructed and supported to upgrade their Anganwadis into vibrant centers with locally available resources, and counseled in ways parents’ engagement can be enhanced. The educators then self evaluate their progress and weekly targets achieved by annotating on the time table image shared on Whatsapp. The platform is also trained to send real-time behavioral nudges, social rewards, and “teaching badges” to build social validation.
Through regular interventions and refresher training, Rocket Learning has been supporting Anganwadi workers’ upskilling into early educators and filling gaps in teaching play-based methodologies. And in the process, building digitally savvy agents of community-change who are ensuring India’s youngest are able to live a life of dignity and equity.
Aruna, Anganwadi worker from Nanded, Maharashtra said: “Post Rocket Learning’s intervention, I have been able to understand students’ strengths by analyzing their performance in Rocket Learning’s digital activities. I am also seeing kids perform and coming to school with great fervour every day!
The recent launch of the “Poshan Bhi, Padhai Bhi” program that mandates 3-day training workshops, under the Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 scheme, have made early education training for Anganwadi workers an urgent national priority. Rocket Learning has had the privilege of supporting the Ministry of Women and Child Development in building the program and will now extend implementation support as a trusted partner of National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD).
Involved in the drafting of age-appropriate teaching modules for children under the age of 6 the focus of the training workshop will be to build Anganwadi workers’ capacity to develop children’s key development domains identified under the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) viz., physical/motor, cognitive, socio-emotional-ethical, cultural/artistic,and the development of communication and early language, literacy and numeracy.
At Rocket Learning, our goal is to help India achieve the world’s first universal high quality education ecosystem by strengthening the capacity of Anganwadi workers as effective early childhood educators, improving policy to scale impact for India’s 35MM children deprived of learning opportunities, and influence parental behaviors to build a strong foundation early for their children.
Like we said, education is every child’s fundamental right. Understanding aspirations, enablers and barriers of early educators is the way to achieve it. In three years, we have reached 1.5 million children, 7 Indian states and 70,000 Anganwadi workers, but we know it's only the beginning.