Digital Skills are at the centre of the fourth industrial revolution and a prerequisite for future employment opportunities for today’s children. With the objective of playing a role in building a future ready talent force from the school level onwards, Vodafone Idea Foundation, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of Vodafone Idea Limited (Vi), and Ericsson India have partnered to set up state-of-the-art robotic labs in 10 schools across the country to provide new-age learning experiences to children from underserved communities, preparing them to participate in future technological studies.
Digital Labs, an innovative education programme, is designed to hand-hold school going children aged 11-14 years, through their first experience with the world of programming and new technologies. By creating an open atmosphere for learning, digital labs aim to instill courage in these students to embrace technology and imbibe a problem-solving approach.
The partnership is aimed at improving the students’ education and employment prospects across Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) by providing an exciting learning experience and develop skills such as teamwork, problem-solving skills, critical thinking.
Through this partnership, ten digital labs will be set up at Vodafone Idea Foundation schools in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Commenting on this initiative, P Balaji, chief regulatory and corporate affairs officer, Vi, and director, Vodafone Idea Foundation, said, “Digital skills are a necessity for the holistic growth of the youth in the digital era. Exposing school going children to coding and robotics helps spark creativity, stimulates critical thinking, imbues a collaborative mindset and opens up a world of opportunities. Using our technology based tools, we have been working with underprivileged children through various programmes aimed at giving them an opportunity to learn, grow and compete. Taking our ‘Technology for Good’ mission forward, we are happy to partner with Ericsson, to expose the young minds with higher-level skills and development, as well as encourage underserved groups to pursue advanced information communications technology (ICT) education and enter STEM fields.”
Meanwhile, States Sonia Aplin, head, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson Southeast Asia, Oceania and India, said, “We are delighted to partner Vodafone Idea foundation towards setting up digital labs in schools across several states in India, empowering teachers and schools to deliver quality education and develop the digital skills of students. This introduction to ICT will set the foundation towards preparing these young students to be part of a digitally skilled workforce, aiding their economic and personal empowerment, and in turn creating a positive effect on India’s economy.”
The robotics course curriculum will focus on providing basic understanding of programming logic in the context of robotics, application of design theory on how to construct a robot to solve basic tasks, use of different datatypes such as string, booleans etc. through a mix of face-to-face and virtual training sessions. A comprehensive train-the-trainer programme will help scale this up to benefit a larger segment of the society in future.
Vodafone Idea Foundation has positively impacted over 1.6 million children through novel technological interventions like Jigyasa, Gurushala, and Teachers and Students Scholarship Programme. The flagship programme ‘Jigyasa’ aims to build capacity of teachers, introduce digital content, training tools, and innovative pedagogy to make learning and teaching more enjoyable, and augment existing infrastructure as needed. Additionally, Gurushala, a knowledge sharing and exchange platform, digitally enables thousands of teachers and students to upload and access material for students learning and development anywhere and anytime. Vodafone Idea Students and Teachers Scholarship programme provides support to deserving students and outstanding teachers for e-learning infrastructure such as laptops, online courses etc..