Arul Mozhi, D. Deepa and K. Maunika are first generation learners from hamlets with about 1,000 families in interior Tamil Nadu in southern India but they are among the thousands of primary and elementary school children who use computers as a learning tool.
Under a computer aided learning programme launched in September, 82,400 rural children in 412 centres in 30 districts are using software packages produced jointly by the State and the Bangalore-based Azim Premji Foundation. Children answer questions in subjects such as Tamil, English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Science on computer.
Some 200 children from class I to VII took online tests for proficiency in using computers here at the Anna Institute of Management Studies. The children were winners at the block and district level online tests held earlier in February. A child exposed to computers will be able to answer some 80 questions in five minutes. Every question [that is] answered is tracked. Each class gets 150 questions. At the end of the tests the scores come up on the screen. It has three objectives. Learning play, assessment and equal knowledge for all. The aim is to make learning fun, assess the child's ability and assess if girls get as much time on the computer as the boys. The Foundation began its project in Karnataka in 2001 and has conducted such programmes in 14 States so far. But, Tamil Nadu is the first to take up statewide assessment.