Asifa belongs to a traditionally underprivileged section of the society where learning options are limited for the girl child. Consequently, most children in her community do not actively pursue a career or even higher education.
But then Asifa isn’t like most children. She has a clear ambition.
“I want to be a doctor and help people free of cost,” says Asifa who idolizes the late Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Asifa’s desire to learn was in jeopardy when her school had to shut down because of the Covid pandemic. With limited opportunities, she risked losing an entire school year.
Fortunately, Vikramshila’s implementation of the ITE Program – set up by Tata Trusts in collaboration with Tata Institute of Social Sciences – ensured that the lockdown didn’t impede her studies.
How did she become a part of the ITE initiative?
“I heard of the ITE initiative from the dada and didi when my parents admitted me to school. It was only in class VI that I got to experience it first-hand,” says Asifa, recounting her first experience.
“For the very first time, we used computers while creating ITE projects. We were never limited to our books; we also explored the internet and took information by observing of our surroundings. We even interviewed various people in our Madrasah and our village to gather information directly.” Continuing, she recalled how her class went on a school excursion to Debanandapur, famous writer Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s birth place from where the idea of doing an ITE project on the author’s work was conceived. She proudly said, “We used Scratch Application, a programming tool to create a quiz which we also presented at the ITE Meet at Dankuni. It was appreciated by all guests. Our project was acknowledged for demonstration of best technical skills.”
“I really enjoy doing hands-on experiments, so you can say, science is my favourite subject of all.”
The lockdown due to COVID-19 crisis has been tough on all. However, Asifa was grateful for the online sessions and ITE Web-Quests. She declares, “I participated in all 5 ITE web-quests. I uploaded and presented ITE artefacts that I made on my father’s phone using various apps”.
Asifa confidently concluded with a smile, “I enjoy doing the research work on various topics the most because it allows me to ask many questions to the experts about it. The live quiz section also pleases me. However, I do wish for my school to reopen so that I can meet my friends and see my teachers.”
Integrated Approach to Technology in Education (ITE) is a Tata Trust Initiative, which is implemented by Vikramshila Education Resource Society in West Bengal. This intervention is in collaboration with Director of Madrasah Education, Government of West Bengal and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai with support from Rukmani Trust.