In July last year, we partnered with Central Square Foundation (CSF) to pilot a remedial learning programme for Maths and Hindi at Chattarpur and Govindpuri in Delhi. The objective was to test the efficacy of a model that uses a blend of technology and traditional learning in remediating learning gaps. Every child attends the Mindspark centre 6 times a week.
Half of this time is spent on Maths and the other half on Hindi literacy. For Maths, 75% of the child’s time is spent on Mindspark software that pitches learning at the level of the particular child. The remaining 25% time is spent on focused remedial face to face instruction. For Hindi, the breakup is 50% computer-time and 50% small group instruction. A modest fee of Rs. 200 is charged per month to ensure parents and children value the service.
Students go through a baseline assessment when they join the centre and thereafter are assessed on a quarterly basis. While our fourth quarterly assessment is presently underway, the evidence so far has been quite promising. Over the first six months, Mindspark students demonstrated 9 months of progress in Maths scores and 7 months progress in Hindi over the baseline. Recently we added three more centres and now have over 400 students enrolled across the five centres.
The last one year has been equally fulfilling and challenging for us. The many lessons we learned with launching and operating the first two centres, came in extremely handy when we decided to launch the new ones a few weeks ago. We realized when selecting a centre’s location, it was critical to map potential neighbourhoods and choose those with large number of low-income families, proximity to double shift government schools and low migration rates. One of our biggest challenges has been around selling the concept of ‘remediation’ to low-income parents. Parents often confuse us for computer learning courses or fancy tuition centres. Many parents who do decide to enroll their children, find it difficult to understand the value proposition since the instruction does not correspond to what the child learned in school that day, nor does it translate into an immediate increase in ‘marks’ at school. We are in the process of creating easy-to-understand formats that communicate a child’s progress report to parents.
Overall, we are working with CSF to further refine our business model, with the aim of making the centres self-sustainable. We believe, once perfected, this model has the potential to provide remediation to our country’s children at scale.