EkStep Foundation was set up in 2015 with a mission to improve literacy and numeracy by increasing access to learning opportunities for 200 million children in India by 2020. To achieve this, EkStep’s focus has been to build digital infrastructure that would amplify the efforts of a large ecosystem of institutions and organizations working on learning across the country, by:
- creating open access to content in a different languages
- enabling the creation of a variety of contextualized learning experiences
- enabling measurement of learning outcomes
- building open frameworks that will enable innovation at scale
In 2016, EkStep’s Platform 1.0 was ready. Ecosystem partners were using the platform to develop solutions for their diverse needs, and EkStep was getting ready for mainstream use in 2017. EkStep’s experience of India’s reality is that:
- There are a very large number (~50%) of first generation learners in school with illiterate parents. The parent’s own agency to actively engage in the learning of their children is low.
- Unless solutions are crafted based on where people are and the resources they have access to, even quality solutions cannot scale or sustain.
- All education and learning interventions need to be highly contextual and not uniform.
- Education is a highly risk averse sector, in terms of both trust in brands and channels. Government, schools, teachers and textbooks comprise trust, scale and acceptance in the society, especially with parents.
- The school textbook is the only learning artifact that reaches the homes of all children.
- Culturally, there is a need to socialize and make acceptable the idea that digital learning is good and safe for the child.
- There are multiple pathways to reaching a child, and at every pathway there is an adult gatekeeper. EkStep has to traverse all paths and empower the gatekeepers to achieve its goal.
Therefore, EkStep believes that access to learning opportunities for learners will only increase if multiple adult ecosystems around the learner are digitally empowered. They will accept the transition to digital solutions only if it increases their own agency in their role of educating the child. Over 2017, we have made significant progress in solving for Access, Acceptability and Diversity at Scale for digital learning. As of November 2017, EkStep digital infrastructure is being leveraged in various forms by governments, non-profits, educationists, teachers and learners in India. We believe that diverse and contextual learning solutions need to be built around the trusted and familiar, like textbooks and teachers. These solutions, while ultimately focused on improving teacher-learner interactions, should also engage and improve the agency of schools, governmental and non-governmental agencies, after-school initiatives and finally, the parent at home.