Rural India has very limited exposure to technology in education. According to the 2014- 2015 report from National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), only 8% of primary schools in rural areas have access to computers. Additionally, the available technology is not suited to the rural cultural context, language and lifestyle, making it difficult for children to associate with it in everyday life. Low to zero internet connectivity and lack of consistent electricity also contribute to these challenges.
The Amrita Rural India Tablet Program, launched in 2013 on Amma’s 60th birthday, attempts to remedy this situation.
Tablet applications created by Amrita RITE are available in up to nine languages such as Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Hindi and English. These apps make learning easy for rural children whose medium of instruction is usually in their regional language. Moreover, they correct mistakes without criticism and reward correct answers with a “virtual sweet”.
Amrita RITE uses special software to speed writing and language development. Akarsharmala is a language-learning course that teaches letters and words by tracing directly on the tablet. Through audio-visual representations and interactive alphabets, students find it easy to identify even the most difficult letters , letter sounds and quickly learn to read and write. Aksharamala is now available in nine languages. Amrita Immersion Reading is a multilingual English speaking and reading course that teaches language by picture association. It translates English words in regional languages, and is designed in a way that helps students learn both languages simultaneously. Our studies have shown that both children and adults have increased motivation and able to master the alphabet in significantly shorter time as compared to traditional methods of teaching language.
Tablet learning relies on minimal infrastructure. The educational software is stored in the tablet, making it independent of internet connection. It works on the low processing power of Android tablets and without the help of powerful servers. Videos, e-books and presentations provide an enhanced learning environment, making children understand concepts in an enjoyable way.