• Udhyam Learning Foundation

Call-a-Kahaani: Learning beyond the barriers of digital inequality

Updated: Jun 4

At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, between the confusion, a significantly impacted section of society were students - across all backgrounds. Specifically the ones who didn’t find themselves with the luxury of continuing their education online.

At the ACT Summit 2021, Mekin Maheshwari, founder Udhyam Learning Foundation touched upon the issue of unequal access of device and network connectivity among learners across the country. “There is room for larger Ed-tech companies to serve learners starting by helping to bridge the inequality between the digital haves and the have-nots”.

According to a survey released by NCERT in 2020, “at least 27% students do not have access to smartphones or laptops to attend online classes, while 28% students and parents believe that lack of electricity is one of the major concerns hindering teaching-learning.” Aptly highlighting the reality of the education infrastructure in our country across the board.

Learners are now looking inward and within their immediate surroundings to look for inspiration and motivation to keep each day going. In 2020, while Udhyam Learning Foundation contemplated how best to address the unequal access to learning, we started a pilot ‘Call-a-Kahaani’ based on an IVRS platform.

It’s a simple platform where learners can call a phone number, listen to stories, interact with mindset based questions and tasks while remaining on the call. Off an independent survey conducted with 430 learners, 80% of them had access only to the ‘calls’ and ‘SMS’ functionality on their handheld devices. The idea of calling in to a number to continue one part of their education, 08061933186, was a welcome change for the learners. Some of the feedback received from the survey was that learners felt motivated and found this process of sharing stories appealing and convenient. They liked the idea of this platform and thought it helps with a different type of learning. A few learners left comments on feeling motivated and confident after listening to the stories and reflected on how they could emulate people mentioned in the stories, in their own lives.

Education is more holistic than imparting knowledge and periodic exercises on skill development. Call-a-Kahaani, was Udhyam’s initial attempt at reaching learners without being limited by device and internet/data connectivity inequality while at the same time encouraging learners to be confident, think independently and use this time to reflect on how they may want to build their lives differently.