In hisÂ comprehensive overview of our experience so far, Rabi had mentioned that Bashuki’s School Management (SMC) Committee and teachers had jointly decided to wait for one week after the project launch before allowing students to take the laptops home even though our preference was to let the chidren take the laptops home right away. Their decision was apparently based on the following assumptions:
1.Â In the past, quite a few students who showed up on the first day of school disappeared within the first week. So it would take at least a week to find out who would be coming to school for sure.
2. Given the socio-economic conditions of the community, protection of laptops at home and during the kids’ daily commute to and from school would be a big problem. So it would be best to first give the children a week to get fully familiar with the machines in the school itself.
It turns out that the teachersÂ Â and SMC members had indeed made the right decision in waiting for a week before letting the kids take the lapotps home. In particular, their first assumption turned out to be quite consistent with reality.Â Needless to say, far fewer grade 2 and 6 students (i.e., grades receiving laptops), dropped out in the first week this year compared to last year;Â but nevertheless, around 9 students might not show up in the coming months.Â
Interestingly, however, the teachers told us that their experience during the past three weeks has led them to completely drop their second assumption.Â According to their observation, there have been absolutely no problems related to the protection of laptops. The children and their families are taking very good care of them. And there have been no instances of laptops getting lost, stolen, pawned, or forcibly taken (even if temporarily) by others–these were the potential dangers the SMC members and teachers were quite concerned about.Â
Another interesting observation from the teachers relates to attendance. Even though it might a bit too early to tell how attendance is going to be impacted over the long haul, this is what the teachers conveyed to us:
1. Compared to last year, there has beeen a distinct decrease in the %Â of dropouts during the first three weeks. While 253 students appeared on the first day of school last year, the number dwindled to 190 by the end of the 3rd week. On the other hand, of the 225 students who came to school the first day, 200 have been attending school regularly even at the end of the 3rd week. The teachers feel that the introduction of Epaati is the main reason behind this positive change.
2. Compared to last year, the number of students disappearing from school in the middle of the school day has also drecreased significantly. Apparently, this is generally a notable problem in the school. But now, at least in grades 2 and 6, no one leaves school before the end of the school day.Â
3.Â There also seems to be some spillover effect on the other grades (perhaps because they have siblings in grade 2 and 6)–the attendance in the other grades has also improved.
It is relevant to note that these are general impressions on the part of the teachers (not the outcome of systematic research!).Â Nevertheless, these are encouraging outcomes.
One final intersting comment from the teachers realtes to the unavailability of power adapters for charging at home. Â Currently, the kids charge the laptops in school and take them home. There is enough charge for them to do Epaati activities and a little bit more at home; but by the time they are done, it is time for recharging. The teachers strongly recommended that we keep it this way–i.e., not make charging facilities avaiable at home. The reason? To give the kids motivation to come to school regularly! This is indeed an interesting point.
Saurav Dev Bhatta, Education Director