The last year has been exceptionally difficult for India — with some struggling more than others. But for students, all across the country, the ongoing pandemic has brought forth an air of uncertainty and confusion. Unable to look beyond their current reality and plan for the future, these students are now at a huge disadvantage.
And this disadvantage grows furthermore in places where students do not have access to basic infrastructure. This pushes schools to experience a high volume of dropouts citing various reasons like familial pressures and financial problems. However, even before the pandemic was in the picture, there was and has been another reason ailing the education sector today — the immense shortage of teachers. Regardless of the pandemic, hundreds of classrooms across the country continue to be without a teacher, despite the mounting vacancy of teaching jobs everywhere. A 2019 media report confirms this, stating that India faces a massive problem with a shortage of more than 10 lakh teachers today.
To bridge the gap created due to this problem, and to solve the shortage of teachers in the country, Lenovo India came up with a solution in 2020. Christened as Lenovo SmarterEd, this unique initiative facilitated free virtual education for students during the lockdown by connecting any volunteer, a professional teacher or a layperson, with students from across the country. These volunteers through the efficient use of technology are helping the students to continue their studies on a day-to-day basis, just like any other school teacher.
Exactly one year later, Lenovo’s initiative has created a humongous positive impact. The ground-breaking matching program has registered more than 11,000 volunteer teachers helping nearly 15,000 students within a year of its launch in April 2020.
The initiative has encouraged Indian youth from 654 cities to volunteer and students from 571 cities to learn using technology, establishing itself as a new model to tackle the gap of education in India.
Elaborating on the qualitative impact created by one of the volunteer teachers, Dev says, “During the lockdown, it was crystal clear that not every school could provide online classes. To add to that there were technical issues faced by both teachers and students to connect together. It’s not possible for every child to grab a WiFi router and join his or her classes. This is where Lenovo SmarterEd worked as an advantage, providing students with a one-on-one interaction opportunity with the teachers.”
SmarterEd accomplished this feat by offering learners from class 5 to 12 a repository of learning material through links to NCERT and State syllabus e-books in addition to the seamless personalised guidance from volunteer teachers via various online mediums, including a chat engine. Lenovo’s smarter technology matched teachers and students using an algorithm taking into account their respective teaching and learning styles.
Rahul Kumar is one such beneficiary who joined the platform during the lockdown to seek help with high school Science and Mathematics. Thanks to the SmarterEd platform and its teachers, he was able to excel in all his schoolwork, including weekly exams. He was also able to catch up with his studies once school classes resumed online.
Working as a catalyst, Lenovo’s SmarterEd was able to light the fire of social transformation and encourage thousands of volunteers to do their part in solving the problem of shortage of teachers. Here’s a video that highlights how each one of us can be a teacher in our own capacity, with a potential to positively influence the next generation. A homemaker, a college student or an office-goer possess the potential to be agents of change through education.