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Educate a child

About the project

DSH’s approach to education has been described as “YouTube meets Netflix in a schoolhouse with a dirt floor.” Headquartered at Lucknow, DSH seeks to improve the quality of education for disadvantaged children in rural and slum schools using appropriate “lite tech” and innovative approaches.

Digital Study Hall also works at the forefront of women and girls empowerment programs by including gender education into the core of their academic curricula and community education campaigns.

How we help

Mona Foundation supports the following programs of the Digital Study Hall:

  • Creating quality classrooms with video content
  • Production of Critial Dialogues, a curriculum to create boys champions of gender equality
  • Digital Study Hall YouTube Channel
  • Aarohini Initiative, a girls' education and empowerment teacher training program, which currently reaches 400,000 people
  • Nonformal Education Centers which educates and enables the transition of very marginalized children in slum areas to public schools
  • Scholarship for Girls in Prerna and KGBV schools
  • Support of DSH management and infrastructure

Creating Quality Classrooms with Video Content

The best grassroots teachers are filmed as they teach in their local languages. Community video processing stations pool these contributions into a networked database. The DVDs are shared with poor schools which are also given TVs and DVD players. Teachers at the recipient schools are trained to actively "mediate" the video lessons by imitating and embellishing the activities contained in the videos. Studies have shown dramatic improvement of student performance and local teachers demonstrated significant improvement in their grasp of subject matter.

The video lessons produced by Digital Study Hall reach out to both teachers and students. With 25,000 subscriptions, the YouTube channel DSHOnline has collected over 4 million video lesson views. Other platforms like Shaladarpan and Diksha collectively reach out to over 20,000 government and private school teachers across India.

In 2017 DSH started producing video lessons in the English language to reach a wider audience. From July 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017, a total of 30 English video lessons were produced by Digital Study Hall, 21 that follow the national level Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) curriculum, and 9 according to the Uttar Pradesh Board prescribed curriculum.

Expanding on the girls’ education and empowerment program, Aarohini, a curriculum to shape young boys to grow into sensitive equitable men is being developed. A total of 28 critical dialogue videos have been produced for this curriculum. 

DSH video lessons onboarded to the National Teachers Platform

In a move that has brought national recognition from the Indian government for DSH video lessons, the Ministry of Human Resource and Development, in collaboration with the National Council for Teacher Education and other stakeholders, has developed the National Teacher Platform - Diksha - which has on board close to 300 Digital Study Hall (DSH) video lessons. These video lessons will be accessible to the teachers of government and private schools across India.

The process of publishing these video lessons is methodical and makes use of a comprehensive metadata framework that maps the video lessons to each state curriculum. Enabling the video lessons to reach a wider audience of children studying in various state boards. Diksha was launched on Teacher’s Day, September 5, 2017.

Teachers at the government schools face a huge challenge with the change in instruction language, now English. DSH video lessons have proved to be of great help in partner schools during this transition. Rajasthan Government Schools adopted DSH videos.  In 2017, DSH started creating Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) prescribed curriculum video lessons in the English language. This curriculum has recently been adopted by the government schools in Rajasthan on their Shaladarpan platform. 

Reaching for the Sky: Empowering Girls Through Education

The Prerna Girls School journey and pedagogy has been cogently documented in the book Reaching for the Sky, by Dr.Urvashi Sahni. One of the primary cases that Reaching for the Sky presents is the benefits of including gender studies as part of the core curriculum and building social and political awareness around it. To further this mission a four minute video was prepared by the content team.  A series of book launch events were held in Washington, New York, Pune, Delhi and Lucknow. All the launch events were a big success during which the Prerna girls and teachers who have been documented in the book spoke about their journey with Prerna Girls School.

Aarohini Initiative: Girls' Education & Empowerment Teacher Training

The Aarohini initiative is a girls’ education and empowerment program based on the ideology that girls and other subordinate groups must learn to critically examine and understand the social and political conditions of their lives, the systemic causes of their oppression and collectively find ways of strengthening  themselves, resisting forces of domination and transforming their lives. With the help of teacher trainings, school led campaigns, policy suggestion, and advocacy, Aarohini Initiative is driving inclusion of gender studies as part of core curriculum to create an equitable and just world.

Evaluation process: An effective assessment of the critical feminist pedagogy is by observing the number of teachers trained and mentored. This mentoring results in identification and resolution of cases of violence against girls and women. Each school led campaign reaches out to community leaders, government, faith leaders, parents and community at large. Each one of these campaign reach is captured and documented.

Teacher Training for girls’ education and empowerment through Critical Dialogue and Community Mobilization: During the period between July and December, 2017 a total of 450 teachers from 31 districts in the state of Uttar Pradesh were trained in Critical Feminist Pedagogy and Community Mobilisation. In total, teachers from 240 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas spread across the state of Uttar Pradesh in India were trained. 

The current outreach of the Aarohini program touches close to 400,000 lives with help of the trainers, mentors, teachers, and the girls.

A total of 28 videos of critical dialogues conducted by the gender experts of SHEF with students at Prerna Boys School on the subject of gender have been recorded by DSH. These videos will be an integral part of a boys’ curriculum for gender studies that will be produced in the year 2018.

Aarohini Tele-Mentoring Center:  A key component of the Aarohini focuses on training teachers to engage young girls in ‘Critical Dialogues’ in the classrooms. Critical dialogues are facilitated discussions among students on issues that affect and limit their lives. This highly participatory approach has students learning to question established traditions, practices, and ‘naturalised’ social norms, while also learning to think about the issues independently, give voice to their thoughts, express their concerns and feelings, and use their own experience and feelings as a valid source of knowledge. 

During the period between July and December 2017, 20 cases of child marriage, 12 cases of domestic violence, 2 cases of molestation, 1 case of dowry death and 1 case of rape were reported to us via the TMC.

DSH Online Youtube Channel

The DSHonline YouTube Channel has seen more than an eight fold increase in its subscriber base to over 25,000 during 2017. The viewership of the channel has increased by tenfold in the last year to over 4 million and counting. The most viewed lessons are from early grade mathematics. The YouTube channel remains one of the most effective and monitorable way of delivering our video lessons.

Comments from the users: 

"Mam...Your teaching way is really awesome....Thank you for sharing these videos.  I wish I had a teacher like you in school."  

"I love it."  

GyanSetu - Nonformal Education Centers

Many kids in the very poor and "slum" areas around cities or villages never attend school.  GyanSetus, or non-formal education centers are nurturing transformative community hub, providing a way to bring the kids to level and transition them to the school system.   Through several innovations GyanSetu seeks to provide solution to the chronic problems of education system that have isolated and alienated the children on the margin.  

There are a total of 14 GyanSetu centers that teach 404 children. Out of these children 92 have been transitioned to a formal school.

Evaluation process: One of the biggest measure of success is sustained transition of an out-of-school child to a school. This is done by providing age appropriate learning to each child and counseling the family to put value to education. GyanSetu also counsels women and young girls on issues that limit their lives with help of professional counselors. Each meeting leads to a community action and is documented.

Meanwhile, activity-based teaching continues to be a cornerstone for engaging and retaining out-of-school children at the GyanSetu centers. Making structures with clay, using leafs to draw characters and waste paper sculptures are activities that are conducted regularly at all the GyanSetu centers.

GyanSetu centers also act as hubs of community transformation, which is why mothers’ meetings are held 6 to 7 times a month at every center. During these meetings, the GyanSetu teacher, accompanied by counselors from Suraksha (an anti dowry and family counseling center), talk to the mothers regarding issues such as domestic violence, alcoholism, and health and hygiene. If and when cases of domestic violence, dowry, substance abuse, etc., are reported, counselors from Suraksha intervene, and if need be the local police is also called in.

Mona Scholarships for Prerna Girls and KGBVs Girls

A total of 1,430 girls who would have dropped out of school because of financial reasons will continue education. 1,330 girls from remote schools in Uttar Pradesh have been connected to scholarship schemes. Another 100 girls have been sponsored at the Prerna Girls School.

Under this project we identify girls who would drop out of school only because of financial crises. We strive to keep the girls in the school and continue their education by direct fund transfer or hand holding the girls to avail government scholarships.

Evaluation process: We monitor the academic progress of the girls that are sponsored and our mentoring
cell remains continuously in touch with the girls.

Story of Transformation, Aarti Singh

Article Image

“I could never open my mouth at home. I was a frightened weak girl. Now I speak up. Now I am not afraid. My father has stopped beating us because we speak up. I know my rights and am not afraid to demand them.  

Now I dream and I want to be a teacher.  I wasn’t sure I would even finish high school. But now I have a BA and I want to do a B.Ed. I want to learn dancing and computers and everything, anything. There are many challenges but I know that we can find solutions, I am not afraid now.  At home my mother asks my advice and I am confident now that I can give her good advice.”   - Aarti Singh, Student, Digital Study Hall, Lucknow. Mona Foundation invests $10/month to educate Aarti. 

Published Policy Brief

On December 20th, 2018, the Brookings Institution published a policy brief—"Mainstreaming gender equality and empowerment education in post-primary schools in India”—and blog—"To empower girls in India, make gender education compulsory”— by founder Urvashi Sahni. The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC. Their mission is to conduct in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems facing society at the local, national and global level.
In the blog, Urvashi writes “Schools are powerful sites for change and social transformation. As the founder of the Study Hall Foundation’s (SHEF) Prerna School—a K-12 school for girls and boys in Lucknow, India—I have seen first-hand how schools can change children’s lives. But to fulfil school’s transformative promise, we must revolutionize what we teach and how we teach it.”
You can find the report here and the blog here

2018 Achievements

Trained 1,500 teachers from 800 schools in Aarohini Critical Feminist Pedagogy reaching 85,453 girls this year. Overall program impact, 501,000 girls.

Produced 2,000 videos covering the state curriculum, viewed by 4 million with 25,000 subscribers, and produced 28 critical dialogues videos.

Provided scholarship to 1,330 girls to KGBV (government schools) and to 100 Prerna students. 100% transitioned to next level

Supported 14 Non-formal Educational Centers, educating 404 children, of whom 59% were girls. 92 children transitioned to normal schools.

Train 700 teachers from 350 schools in 41 districts in Aarohini girls empowerment program.

Engage 700 schools from Uttar Pradesh province in India's Daughters Campaign

Support 14 Non-formal Education Centers with 500 children

Provide Mona Foundation scholarships to 1,150 girl in KGBV and Prerna schools

Produce 50 videos and enable access onffline to scale reach

Change four lives!

Give $50 a month, or $500, to fund the education of four girls for one school year.

Aarti Singh's Story

Aarti is a student at Digital Study, Lucknow.  She participated and successfully completed the Digital Study Hall Aarohini Girls Empowerment Program focused...

Reaching for the Sky

Poonam Gautam is a young woman living, learning and leaving her mark on the world. ...