Samsung Smart Class aims to bridge the digital gap between rural and urban, Says Deepak Bhardwaj, Vice President, Samsung India

India CSR News Network

NEW DELHI: In an exclusive interview with India CSR Network, Deepak Bhardwaj, Vice President, Samsung India discuss the CSR initiatives of Samsung India, vision of CSR and recent education practices initiated for community development particular in the area of Smart Class.

Samsung India deeply believes that its Smart Class, a flagship CSR intervention which features interactive technologies will help bridge the digital divide between the rural and urban. Edited excerpts:

Tell us something about the Smart Class initiative? How does it benefit students?

Samsung Smart Class, the company’s flagship citizen program in India, promotes digital education among underprivileged students, especially in rural India.

Since 2013, Samsung has set up over 476 Samsung Smart Class in Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya schools, a system of alternate schools under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, across the length and breadth of India. This has benefitted over 2.5 lakh students, enabling them easy access to digitally interactive smart learning opportunities. In this period, over 8,000 teachers have been trained on how to use the interactive technology to teach.

The program aims to bridge the digital gap between rural and urban India and provide equal opportunities for quality education to children from all backgrounds. The Samsung Smart Class program seeks to leverage the company’s expertise in developing technological solutions that will shape the future.

The idea behind the Samsung Smart Class program was to bring students closer to technology and use this technology to improve learning methodology in schools. The student-teacher interaction using this technology interface is far more robust today, and has helped students grasp difficult subjects better. The students emerging from these classes are more confident about using technology later in their lives.

With the constant feedback from all the stakeholders, the next step during 2016-17 has been to create 150 Samsung Star Scholar merit scholarships for JNV students, getting admission in IITs and NITs across the country. Each scholarship is of Rs 2 lakh annually and covers the 4-year undergraduate course duration.

What all equipment does a Samsung Smart Class consist of?

Every Samsung Smart Class is equipped with an interactive Samsung Smartboard, Samsung tablets, a printer, Wi-Fi connectivity and power backup.

How, according to you will such interactive technologies help bridge the gap between the rural and urban education system?

We are absolutely confident that interactive technologies will help us bridge the digital divide between the rural and urban students. Visually attractive methods of teaching using interactive modules like videos and presentations are appealing to students. Samsung Smart Class supplements regular lessons in mathematics, science and social science to explain concepts in an engaging and interactive manner. Teachers are trained on using the equipment effectively to make lessons come alive.

As the audio-visual senses of students are targeted, it helps students retain information faster and more effectively. Compared to their urban counterparts, students are getting an equal platform to study and learn more through advanced interactive technologies offered through Samsung Smart Class.

Why did Samsung start the Samsung Smart Class initiative?

Samsung Smart Class aims to bridge the digital gap between rural and urban India and provide equal opportunities for quality education to children from all backgrounds. The endeavour is to promote digital education among under underprivileged students, especially in rural India.

The program inspires young India to use technology to educate, train and up-skill as it rides government initiatives like Digital India, Make in India and Skill India, among others.

This initiative is closely tied with India’s development agenda, and is implemented in close partnership with government departments to ensure wider reach and impact.

What kind of feedback have you got for Samsung Smart Class?

Feedback from teachers and principals of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya schools indicates that Samsung Smart Class have increased student attention in classrooms, reduced rates of student absenteeism and increased student familiarity and comfort with technology such as smart boards, tablets, laptops and printers, taking forward government of India’s Digital India initiative.

Teachers have also cited that students learn complicated concepts more easily and that the digitally interactive environment encourages shy or hesitant students to participate better in classroom discussions.

The results have started to show now with several students from these schools qualifying for IITs and NITs across the country. Samsung recently highlighted one such success story through a digital and television campaign #SapneHueBade, of a boy from Maharashtra, Sadanand Ugale, who secured a study trip to Australia from Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya in Aurangabad, Maharashtra.

Disclaimer: The thoughts captured in the interview is solely that of the interviewee. The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his/her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR Network and its Editor.

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