Educating nomadic children is challenging for many reasons, among which is the need to cater to their mobility. This calls for portable strategies and flexible courses that will retain the interest and attention of the children. The Indian Institute of Technology Bombay adapted the Anchored Instruction Approach in three experimental camp schools in Maharashtra in western India to teach nomadic children, between five and 17 years old, the 3Rs through discovery, interaction and participation. IIT site says:
The nomadic tribes in India show very little concern for educating their children and, because of their wandering nature, it has become near impossible to have a continuum in their education, even if it is made available.
Capitalizing on the local setting and environment to provide the context and content of their lessons, the “live” anchored instruction sessions were video-taped in each camp. With the help of laptops and audio-visual programmes, the children were able to view the tapes of all three camps to provide them with broader perspectives of life beyond their own confines.
They learnt to count and associate numbers, colors and names with pictures, charts and other items shown in the videos. A series of online tests were conducted in situ following the viewing. Offline work to view the recording was also available to facilitate self-learning. An interactive video was developed from one of the camp videos to enhance the learning process. Furthermore, a series of virtual nomadic environments was designed to enable the children to correlate information with the real world.
The children were able to use the laptops and adjust to the ICT-based solutions easily. At home with the touchpad and navigation, some of the children were able to guide their peers through the lessons independently. Some even managed to transfer their knowledge to their relatives who visited the camp schools.
The outcome of the project showed the students’ retention to be almost 100%, highlighting the success of the innovation. The project was successfully implemented in Maharashtra and extended on to incorporate the community learning of life skills. A similar program for incorporating ICTs in regular rural schools is also associated with the same IIT Lab. Other projects of Lab include Bhav Puchiye, an application for enquiring rates of commodities, an Agroexplorer and aAqua giving advisory services on agriculture to local farmers.