A fruitful CSR partnership

DG Prashant Deshmukh (second from left) and Rtn Ravee Dhotre after signing an MoU with Tata Technologies Limited.
DG Prashant Deshmukh (second from left) and Rtn Ravee Dhotre after signing an MoU with Tata Technologies Limited.

When (TRF Trustee Chair) Kalyanda visited Pune as RIPE in 2010, he discovered the framework for RILM in D 3131’s flagship project — Rotary Distance Education Programme (RDEP),” says RRFC and RILM Vice Chair Kamal Sanghvi. After his visit PRIPs Rajendra Saboo, K R Ravindran, RI General Secretary John Hewko and directors from across the globe have visited Pune to understand the model and replicate it elsewhere.

Initially a Global Grant for 36 installations was completed in 2010–11. “We have to thank Kalyanda for talking about the potential of this project at every possible platform. It possibly paved the way for Rotary India Literacy Mission (RILM) and TEACH where e-learning is an essential feature,” says Rtn Ravee Dhotre of RC Poona North (RCPN). Today the RDEP programme has grown to be a whopping Rs 6 crore CSR partnership with Tata Technologies Ltd.

Today the RDEP programme has grown to be a whopping Rs 6 crore CSR partnership with Tata Technologies Limited.

Adya, a Class 7 student in a village school in Gujarat knows that “Rotation se din aur rath hoti hai. I saw it in the video.” At Smt Shantidevi Gupta High Schools, Maharashtra, Manyu of Class 3, enjoys the “humorous message on the importance of hand-wash in between my video lessons,” while Suhail is in love with his vowels video. Over the last six years more than 2,500 installations have made education available to rural schools in not just Maharashtra but also Gujarat.

The Software

Dr Aapga Singh, COO of RILM, makes it  clear that “the software is not here to replace the teacher. It works like an audio visual aid,” and has lessons explained and elaborated using animation to improve the understanding of students. It doesn’t need a fast online connection and has an inbuilt data collector that holds a record of the lessons played, how many times a particular chapter was opened and how many hours the software has been used. This will help measure the development of students and aid in creating simplified lessons.

Children engrossed in an E-learning classroom.
Children engrossed in an E-learning classroom.

The initial project resulted in reduced dropouts, improved scores and enhanced confidence of the students in schools for underprivileged children. Not just restricted to providing only the software/hardware, the e-learning kit comes with a three-year on-site support, warranty and upgrades to ensure its smooth functioning. ­Pundale, the ­Principal of Shree ­Bhariavnath Vidya ­Mandir, says that the software has lessons on almost all subjects. “­Neighbouring school ­officials who visited our ­e-classrooms were very impressed and have approached Rotary to implement this project in their schools too,” he adds. As the popularity of the project began to grow CSR funds have started flowing in.

In 2014, Tata Technologies Ltd wanted to partner the project. The company spent eight months assessing the project and the credibility of the club and the vendors involved. “After multiple audit visits to offices and beneficiary schools, their team felt confident that they had met their long-term associate,” says Dhotre. RC Poona North and Tata Technologies signed their first MoU in February 2015 to install interactive e-learning systems in schools.

After the funds were released, 408 installations were done in five weeks. “When the Tata officers randomly visited the schools, they were amazed with the kind of instant impact they saw on the students,” he adds. Today, RC Poona North in association with Tata Technologies
has installed over 1,000 units in remote village schools benefiting more than 300,000 students. “Only Rotary will give you doctors, engineers and other professionals who work happily free of cost. Service is Rotary’s business. Using the strength of our partners, we are creating a better world,” says Sanghvi.

Dhotre says, encouraged by the results, Tata Technologies has expressed the desire to take this project to the national level and promote it with its sister concerns. The company is partnering with RCPN for the third year in a row now. Tata Motors has signed an MoU to implement the same in Sanand, Gujarat, D 3051. Rotary has signed an MoU with Tata Technologies to promote and implement this project throughout India. This CSR partnership, Dhotre believes, is a “huge boost and recognition for the efforts by thousands of Rotarians working under TEACH mission.”

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