Rural women use basic phones for learning during lockdown
20 October 2020

What are some of the ways to ensure learning continuity for the most disadvantaged groups in the face of disruptions caused by COVID-19? What are COL’s innovations in linking rural women to quality learning for credit? How can basic phones be used to blend scalability in learning delivery?

These are some of the questions that were addressed at a virtual workshop hosted by COL in partnership with Mann Deshi Foundation and Vidiyal, India as well as the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur as part of UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week (MLW). Titled “The basic phone as the new normal in massive mobile learning,” the event brought together more than 120 experts from around the world. The goal was to demonstrate how rural women were able to overcome some of the impact of extended lockdown due to COVID- 19 by adapting or totally changing their occupations and micro-enterprises through learning using basic mobile phones.

COL and partners offered new learning opportunities in digital literacy and in important production techniques to some 4,500 members of all-women micro-credit groups during the recent lockdown in India.  

At the workshop, Ms. Vanita Shinde (Mann Deshi) explained how access and flexibility were built into the learning programmes, resulting in a high level of active participation. She presented the story of Ms. Shital Ghadage, a scrap leader with elementary schooling, who was able to make use of telephone-based groups to contact her clients and to locate scrap.

The simple and unique technology of MobiMOOC, deployed in all these programmes was described in a presentation by Ms. K T Revathy, lead project engineer at IIT Kanpur. Two videos made by the members of Vidiyal on their experiences were presented (watch video 1 and video 2).

Dr Moses Tenywa, COL Education Specialist, Agriculture and Livelihoods, was the workshop convener and presenter, and Dr V Balaji, COL’s Vice President, was a presenter as well.

 Dr Tenywa said: “We are pleased that COL was selected to host a workshop in MLW 2020 which is the UN’s flagship event in ICT in education. COL’s programmes demonstrate how innovative solutions to offer learning services to the most disadvantaged people can be provided to great effect and in an affordable fashion. Linking the outcomes of such learning for credit and finance at scale is the main objective of L3F”.