India's largest Personalised and Adaptive Learning (PAL) program launched in Rajasthan – India Education Diary

The outbreak of COVID-19 has created massive gaps in learning, especially for girls in non-urban areas. It has forced the entire education industry to bring up the inevitable changes in its functioning. 
Rajasthan government has successfully completed a pilot for Mission Buniyaad – an ambitious PAL program aiming to recoup learning level loss due to Covid-19 for 1 million adolescent girls and 2 million students in Rajasthan. The education minister of Rajasthan, Hon. Dr. Bulaki Das Kalla, and Minister of State, Education, Hon. Smt. Zahida Khan announced the state-wide scale-up of Mission Buniyaad at an event on Monday to commemorate Teachers’ Day.
The EdTech pilot was conducted among 35,000 girl students in six districts – Udaipur, Bhilwara, Sikar, Karauli, Dhaulpur, and Sirohi, with an average learning outcome improvement of 16% between baseline and endline. The six-month pilot included grade 8-12 students spending two hours per week on digital devices for personalized and adaptive learning (PAL) and in-person school instruction. 
Overall, the PAL intervention has produced early signs of extremely promising success in a short time, given that a change of 0.2 SD and above in a year is considered significant in educational interventions. As part of the program, third-party assessments were administered covering eight subjects to students distributed in Tablet and Control groups, selected through stratified random sampling. 
Mission Buniyaad involved several key initiatives, including alignment of content with the State Board syllabus, getting approvals on content before starting the program, onboarding the community by addressing their concerns, creating ownership of the government as this initiative helps them achieve the goals laid out in National Education Policy 2020 and STARS program. The program also developed an SOP and WhatsApp groups for teachers to address their issues. It live-tracked the student usage and performance via impact dashboards which helped prioritise STEM subjects where students were not devoting enough time.
The roadmap for Mission Buniyaad targets improvements across all three pillars of digital education – Access, Equity, and Quality. This year, the government will scale the program by enabling ICT and Tablet labs across all 33 districts with the PAL platform to produce fruitful results. The PAL platform backtracks on a student’s progression to cover every possible gap in learning. Unlike a library, where you have to search every shelf for a book, the PAL platform automatically provides formative assessments, individual feedback, and content recommendations in the students’  learning journey. It significantly reduces the disruptive effects that the pandemic has caused on their education.
The students can access the PAL platform through school ICT labs or smartphones at home. Teachers would use real-time data and trends accumulated through adaptive assessments to calibrate the teaching process in a classroom. Student-wise and topic-wise insights are available for teachers to teach at the right level and further personalize their instructions as per the classroom’s strengths and weaknesses.
Around 130 million children attend government schools in India. It is more than the overall population of many countries. Many of these children can do wonders. EdTech programs like Mission Buniyaad fulfill those aspirations with the hope of developing long-term systemic reform in school education.
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