S. Agarwal1, P. Vora2

1Sterlite Technologies Ltd (INDIA)
2Reniscience Education (INDIA)
This study presents the design and impact (in the first year of intervention) of a three year English reading program - a unique public-private partnership between the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and Sterlite Tech Foundation (the CSR arm of Sterlite Technologies, one of the most integrated optical fiber companies in the world).

Using Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) satellite communication technology, the municipal government of Mumbai has connected 480 classrooms to four studios, from where teachers (VC expert) can deliver live lectures to dozens of schools simultaneously. At the studio, teachers have access to digital blackboards. Live lectures are filmed at the studio and simultaneously beamed to the classrooms with the help of VSATs. The images are picked up through an antenna on the terrace of both the studio and the government schools. This is then projected on 60 inch plasma screens installed in special classrooms in every school. At any given time, students in particular classrooms can communicate with the VC expert in the studio using a microphone. Every class also has an in class teacher-facilitator to facilitate the sessions and ensure success of the lesson.

The goal of our program is to improve English reading fluency, accuracy and comprehension of government school students. Using a combination of phonics, sight words and connections to the textbook, our eight teachers reach approximately 48,000 students every week across Hindi, Marathi, Urdu and English medium schools. For almost a hundred percent of these students, English is a second or sometimes, even third language and many of these students are first generation English Language Learners.

This particular study looks at the impact of the first year of our English reading program on students in the regional medium schools. We do this by using beginning and end of year assessment data of 381 randomly selected students in schools receiving our program (sample group) and 403 randomly selected students in schools that do not yet have the Virtual Classroom infrastructure and hence, do not receive our lessons (control group). By comparing the control and sample group assessment data, we could gauge how effective our intervention has been in improving students’ English reading.

We also present our earnings with respect to lesson design, especially for delivery through such a virtual platform. These are based on teacher feedback from the ground and our on reflection.

Lastly, we discuss the significance of monitoring and evaluation on such a program.