An interactive session with Mr. Uday Mehta Sir was organized by Saathi Enabling Center in collaboration with Ankur Vidya Mandir of Social Outreach and Enabling Center, on 19th November, 2020. The session was conducted on MS Teams and began sharp at 3:00 PM.
In the session, Mehta Sir started by introducing himself. Mehta Sir is a former World Bank employee. He now runs his own NGO called Siddh Divyang Academy, which focuses on visually impaired students and comes up with ideas to improve the education of students with visual impairments. They also help slow-learners and special students learn better. Mehta Sir showed a PPT which included the various conditions of visual impairment in India, and he even showed a demographic factor of the same.
He then mentioned his academy. The academy assists the students in learning better. In India, teachers are not skilled enough to teach a visually impaired child. In primary schools, teachers give the students an object which they want him to learn about. For example, the child is given an object that looks like an apple, and then the teacher explains the various properties of an apple. But because of inadequacy of the objects, only one student at one time (and here we are talking about a blind student) can touch and feel while the rest can only listen, having no idea what the teacher is talking about. Plus, the teacher cannot repeat the same thing numerous times, which causes problems for the students while learning.
To solve this problem, Siddh Divyang Academy has created an application that makes use of RFID tags for the objects. They also have a Braille tag. With these tags, the student will understand what the object is, and while the child is holding the object, the software will narrate about the object. This way every student can learn at his own time and at his own pace. The software can even repeat the narration as many times as the students wants.
This is a tactile kind of learning. The software is a technology-enabled pedagogy and is used by the kids in Divyang. The technology assesses the major area of understanding and does not engage in rote-learning in any way. There is another app called SunKids Mobile App, which one can install on their phone. It is just like the software on laptop but made for mobile phones. It teaches the students and even conducts tests. Assessing is done on the basis of how much understanding the student has on a particular topic. Currently, the app has one lakh users.
Siddh Divyang Academy wanted to collaborate with Saathi Enabling Cente. Therefore, Saathi’s student coordinators explained what Saathi is, how it works and what all it has accomplished over the years.
The key idea of the meeting was to make people understand that education needs to be about learning and understanding and not simply rote-learning. Especially when it comes to the education facilities provided to the blind, our country lacks in basic amenities. Siddh Divyang Academy wants people to understand that there are such academies working to make the education of blind children better with the help of such apps and software. There was a Question and Answer session where students from Saathi asked a couple questions about how the app works and few of them suggested a couple of changes that can be made in the app to make it more effective.
The session ended with the Vote of Thanks proposed by Anika Kulkarni and Smruti Pusalkar. Conclusively, it was an informative session wherein all learned a thing or two about making educational life pleasing and fascinating.
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