Captivating Computer Assisted Learning – filling a gap in rural remote schools

Low Motivation and Poor-Quality Education – these are two of the barriers remote rural children face when going to their local school. But, when students become excited about learning, great things happen. This is where technology can now come into play. The main goal of Captivating’s latest initiative, the Captivating Computer Assisted Learning (CCAL) program, is to improve rural school students performance in school.  We want to increase the likelihood kids will remain in school for longer, and not drop-out. Although statistics vary, research into poor locations of Western China suggest that less than 50% of students start senior high-school (Grade 10 and up). There are multiple reasons for this, but one of the big ones is a students inability to pass the high school entrance exam and do as well as other students.  In fact, many students feel they are so behind in their education they don’t even sit the exam – “why bother“. Feelings of inadequacy and inability to do well in school starts right back in the early years due to a combination of factors including poor motivation and boredom by the student, along with an inability of poor remote schools to secure quality teachers.

We believe we can make a significant (and quantifiable) difference here – and we’ve seen a great way of doing it. Captivating, through our partnership with Shamtse (our Qinghai registered charity partner) is working with three rural schools to pilot the CCAL program. Thanks to funding received from The Nanshan Challenge (a Shenzhen based fund-raising event organized by Claire Taylor and team), experts work with these schools to set-up and implement a computer learning program in the school. The great news is that this program is all about building intellectual capital.  The Chinese government has made incredible investments of infrastructure in rural locations including, for remote schools, the supply of computers.  This is a wonderful start, however, for many schools these computers sit under-utilized due to lack of understanding by local teachers – many of whom are themselves computer illiterate. The CCAL program exists to bridge this gap – set-up and establish the hardware, train the teachers, and progressively implement computer classes to the students.

Over the past several months, 120 brand new government supplied desktop computers have been installed and commissioned by our dedicated CCAL computer technician.  Over 40 teachers from the three schools have been attending a series of classes on how to use and care for the computers, use computer software, and how to use computers in their daily class planning and learning. 60 highly interested students from the schools were then selected to attend a test class which learning to type and draw on the computers as well as searching for books and articles on the internet. The students are very passionate and excited about participating in the computer classes as they have never experienced this before. Already we can see motivation for learning increasing.

As we now enter a new school year in China, we look with interest to see how this initiative progresses through it’s first roll-out period. If successful, we will look to expand to other schools. We look forward to keeping you up to date with the progress of this program. Again, our thanks Claire Taylor and The Nanshan Challenge for funding this trial program period.

(Photo – Students from Wendu Township are participating in the CCAL computer assistant learning class after all the brand new desktops were installed.)

We are confident this new initiative will have a significant impact on keeping rural kids in school. This is a significant problem which requires innovative answers. To expand this program we need project sponsors.  It costs US$5k to establish a program like this in a remote rural school.  Your one-time support would implement a program that will have an ongoing, long-term impact.  Please consider doing this with us. If you can help, contact andrewc@captivating.org. Your support could mean the difference between children progressing in their education, or facing drop-out.

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