Exploring computing education in rural schools in India

Earlier this year, the Raspberry Pi Foundation supported a University of Cambridge team of two researchers, Dr Maximilian Bock and Aftab Jalia, in a pilot project exploring the possibilities of providing computing access and education in rural schools in India. Working with local organisations and using an adaptable three-day programme, they led two workshops in June 2014 introducing students and teachers to computing with the Raspberry Pi. The workshops used specially designed electronics kits, including Raspberry Pis and peripherals, that were handed over to the partner organisations.

Karigarshala students connect Raspberry Pis and peripherals The first workshop took place at Karigarshala Artisan School, run by Hunnarshala Foundation in Bhuj, Gujarat; the attendees were a group of 15-to-19-year old students who had left conventional education, as well as three local instructors. The students started off with very little experience with computers and most had never typed on a keyboard, so a session introducing the keyboard was included, followed by sessions on programming, using the Raspberry Pi camera module and working with electronics.

Karigarshala students mastering hardware control of an LED via the Raspberry Pi GPIO

Karigarshala students mastering hardware control of an LED via the Raspberry Pi GPIO

Students chose to spend their evenings revisiting what they had learned during the day, and by the end of the course all the students could write programs to draw shapes, create digital documents, connect electronic circuits, and control components such as LEDs using the Raspberry Pi.

Chamoli students practise on their own using a TV as a monitor

Chamoli students practise on their own using a TV as a monitor

The second workshop welcomed six- to twelve-year-old pupils of the Langasu Primary School in the remote Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, along with three of their teachers. This younger group of students followed a programme with more focus on activities featuring immediate feedback — for example, Sonic Pi for live-coding music — alongside programming and electronics tasks. As they learned, students soon began teaching other students.

In an Ideas Competition held at the end of the workshop, entries reflected students’ engagement with the Raspberry Pi as a device with which to build solutions: an inverter system to deal with frequent power outages, a weather station that gives warnings, a robot to assist with menial chores.

The Cambridge team’s “Frugal Engineering” approach, delivering computing education without the need for elaborate infrastructure, proved very successful in both schools. Hunnarshala Foundation has decided to integrate the Raspberry Pi into its vocational training curriculum, while students at Langasu Primary School will not only carry on learning with Raspberry Pis at school but will be able to borrow self-contained Raspberry Pi Loan Kits to use at home. The Cambridge team remains in touch with the schools and continues to provide off-site support.

September 2014 and February 2015 will see the team build on this successful pilot with induction workshops in three new schools, as well as follow-up visits to evaluate the use of Raspberry Pi in past project sites and to provide support and resources for expanding the programmes.

Edited to add: you can now visit this project’s website to find out more!

11 comments

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what no Gangotri?

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Great projects.

Is there a link available to donate some $$?

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I’m not sure what the funding situation is for this project right now, but if you’re interested in supporting education for children in areas that don’t enjoy the same access to computing as we generally do, we’d really love to see people support the solar-powered Raspberry Pi computer lab that Liz blogged about earlier in the week. This project in South Africa is just getting off the ground, and they need funding for hardware, including solar panels, to add to the resources they’ve already secured. Their Indiegogo campaign is at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/solar-powered-raspberry-pi-school.

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Kudos to the team.. I am from Bangalore, India and have been working on Rpi with few kids in my local area. I would like to get connected with the team and help in their endevour in India. Do let me know if anything is planned in Bangalore and if I can be of any help.

Thanks.
Amitabh

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Dear Amitabh,

I am working with underprivileged children in Ooty. Trying to give them language skills. Someone mentioned Rasberry pi but we have not been able to make headway with no one really able to tell us how to go about it. Think you could advise us – help ?

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Hi Team,
Nice to see this initiative happening in India.I do believe , not only rural kids but all kids from different streams should get access to technologies / tools like RBPi, 3D printing, Arduino.
I just started running makerlab in Pune region and conucted few seminars on 3D printing. I am also willing to educate kids about RBPi in and around Pune. Please join me if you are interested in taking workshops around Pune.
Thanks,
Atul N Yadav
http://www.facebook.com/herambmakerlab

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Hi Atul Yadhav
Nice to see your initiatives in 3D printing and also interest in Raspberry Pi. I’m also interested in taking these technologies to urban and rural area. currently I’m based in UK so let me know if I can be any of your help.

Thanks
Devendra Shinde

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Hello

I want teach student from rural areas regarding the benefits of using Ras-Pi,Can anybody help me out
what all things I can teach to students using rasp-pi,so that
they can develop a good computing knowledge like typing,web browsing,etc
so please help with the list of open software i can use.

Regards
amit.ppg@gmail.com

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Hello Helen,

Great project and pretty glad that I am associated with it too. We are startup dedicated with a similar dream “Make our Universities in India well equipped for Research & Development”. We have already started conducting seminars across a lot of universities across south of India and helping them develop a Lab environment for students to perform their R&D activities. The lab environment is based on RBPi and doesn’t cost much in maintenance too. Currently we are looking at procuring 100+ RBPi which we plan to donate to the universities for their Lab setup. Any place we an connect for a better pricing structure.

Many Thanks
– Intekhab

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Hello Mr Intekhab Pathan,
nice to know about your venture, we are situated at Aurangabad, Maharashtra, and willing to do similar kind of work, can you share how you got started? I wish to make it happen in Maharashtra, and mostly in our Marathwada region where there is no reach of any advanced research facility like RPi, can I reach you?

Amit Rana
9922968553

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I’ in India!! come to mumbai.

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