EkStep, a social venture launched by Nandan and Rohini Nilekani to address learning challenges in primary education, is testing its first app this month.
It will be during the Annual Status of Education Report survey, by the ASER Centre, research and assessment arm of Pratham, a non-profit body. It is reliably considered among the most credible sources of information on children’s learning outcomes. For a decade, ASER has been doing this manually, with pen and paper. Now, it is being fully digitised by using the EkStep platform, said Shankar Maruwada, chief executive of EkStep.
As a part of the survey, named 'Lakhon mein ek' (One in a lakh) this year, ASER Centre intends to cover 100,000 villages with the help of around 10,000 volunteers. This year, the volunteers would use smartphones powered by the ASER app, developed by EkStep to conduct the survey among children in the age group of three to 16 years.
"With the digital ASER app, they will be able to publish the results (in) real time,” said Maruwada. “It will help us understand what will work and what will not. We will do more such pilots (experimental projects).”
Set up by the Nilekanis with an initial commitment of $10 million (about Rs 65 crore), EkStep looks at solving the 'learning problem' by creating a technology-led platform to help children in improving their 'learning outcomes' quite early in their life. EkStep intends to do it using gamified apps, hosted in the Google playstore.
The backbone is this would be EkStep Genie, a meta-app with lots of gamified apps. EkStep is working on it with an external partner, laying out a framework it is developing based on its research, done in association with academics, psychologists and neurologists of repute.
“A lot of children are going to school, which is great, but the learning outcome, especially at the primary level, is dismal,” said Maruwada. "Our effort is to understand that problem, and to create an open infrastructure allowing those in the education space — policy makers, people who design curriculum, content creators, parents and tuition teachers — to solve it.”