Technology & Learning for Rural Panchayats

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These pictures are from my work with Panchayats in the Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan conducted from 2010-2012. Panchayats are elected rural governments. They must regularly undergo capacity building programmes to carry out their duties. My goal was to transform classroom based training programmes to be more inclusive and expansive through a technology enabled pedagogical approach.

One such capacity building programme was supported by the Local Governance Initiative South Asia (LoGIn) of the Swiss Cooperation Office India (SDC). It was conducted in the Kutch region and Udaipur District of India for Elected Representatives to Panchayats and NGO activists. The modules titled Prajatantra (Democracy), Adhikar (Rights), Bhavishya (The Future) built an understanding of core concepts and practices in decentralized governance.

I devised a methodology and programme that would foster an experiential peer learning community enabled by technology. One that would predicate the knowledge of the learner. One that prioritised collaboration. This was achieved  through a mentored pedagogical approach and modules titled – ‘The TELPE’ (Technology Enhanced Learning Process Enabler). The challenge was to simultaneously inculcate technological competencies while concomitantly using technology to expand collaboration and co-creation, for a community that is severely disadvantaged both materially and educationally. A community of continuous learner-practitioners was thus created, to thrive outside the classroom,  through planned interventions. This revolutionised the training program into being collaborative, networked and experiential, rather than faculty dependent and didactic.  Most importantly it expressed the invaluable storehouse of experiential knowledge that rests with rural practitioners and is rarely, if ever, made explicit. .

Perhaps for the  first time in India, websites for knowledge sharing and advocacy were created by grassroots learners themselves (not web designers), whose capacities to do so were earlier non-existent.  These knowledge products from the learning program are the websites listed below created by panchayat members, mentored by TELPE:

The experience of building a complex pedagogical integration of technology into learning process is described in the paper below.


The TELPE: Technology enabling rural governance training in India

Parimala Inamdar
Aquarians Management Consultancy (P) Ltd, Mumbai, India
This contribution describes the design of an innovation in pedagogical approach, enabled by technology, for a course targeted to elected representatives of rural government in India. The course titled ‘Decentralization to Local Governments’ was conducted in the rural Kutch District of Gujarat State in India through multiple modules. The content of the course focused on concepts and practices of decentralized governance. Learners in these areas face socio-economic and formal education deprivation but are rich in their experiential knowledge and indigenous cultures. An innovative multi-modal program design called ‘TELPE’ was deployed to enable local governance learning to extend beyond the classroom and capture experience, through technology. The use of technology with its associated pedagogical practices created networks of remote rural learner-practitioners. It built communities and enhanced collaboration, sharing and publishing of experiential knowledge, thereby creating a larger learning experience beyond
the classroom

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