Uplifting Lives of Rural Children in China
The disparity in education between urban and rural areas of China has been a problem for many years. A shortage of teachers and teaching resources are the main factors restricting the progress of students in remote and impoverished areas of China. The few teachers that the schools have, focus on the delivery of basic subjects such as Chinese language, Mathematics, sometimes English, leaving many areas of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) subjects untouched.
TCS China joined hands with Tata Sons China to donate digital classrooms in partnership with a local non-profit organization “Project Volunteer Online”. The donated classrooms provide online teaching facilities for rural students and create assets which can be used again and again by school students over the years.
TCS China volunteers undergo training and then conduct real-time learning programs on various STEAM related topics for rural primary schools. The technological expertise and highly professional employee base of the company provide the opportunity for children to learn various STEAM courses. Through one Online lesson per week, students are opening up their horizons, learning more about the outside world, and flourishing.
Another aspect of the students’ life that makes the program go far beyond bridging the education gap, is the attention and care they receive from volunteer teachers. The students in these schools are usually children of parents who have moved away to bigger cities in the hope of better opportunities and higher income, leaving their children behind. These underprivileged children require not only knowledge provided by these courses but also kindness and care from the volunteer teachers.
TCS China holds long-term engagement activities to keep engaging with the students, showing love and care through different interactions, such as rural school visits, painting, dance, games, and new year gifts. These engagement activities build the bridge between the students and TCS associates and connect students with the outside world.
TCS China plans to continue its CSR program’s - donate digital classrooms to rural village schools, provide volunteer teachers to deliver STEAM courses; and engage students through different activities in the long-term. Through these three aspects, TCS China hopes to bridge the education gap through technology and transferring love and care through engagement with rural children.
Bridging the Education Gap Through Technology - Digital Classroom Donation
In many rural schools in China, infrastructure like electricity and internet are available, enabling the use of modern teaching facilities. However, there are not enough teachers to teach STEAM courses. As these schools are away from cities, it is difficult to attract teachers to relocate to villages to teach.
Over the last two years, TCS China has partnered with Tata Sons China to donate 2 digital classrooms in Gansu, Wusong and Kangyang primary schools. These two schools have had access to the internet for more than 10 years, but they still did not have computer courses because of a lack of facilities and teachers. Through the donated digital classrooms, more than 180 students and teachers have been able to use these facilities by opening a new learning channel for them. These schools are now able to be a part of the online teaching program. The two donated classrooms will benefit 500+ students over the next 10 years. TCS China plan to donate more such digital classrooms in the future.
Mr. Huang Yongqiang, the head of the school district of Kangyang primary schools, said “The digital classroom allows our children to connect with the outside world, the donation is of great significance for us as it has given wings to the dreams of the children.”
Mr. Xiaoduan Yang, the principal of Kangyang Primary School which received the donated digital classroom facilities, said “All teachers and students of Kangyang Primary School will certainly make full use of the online teaching resources, improving the quality of education and teaching in Kangyang Primary School.”
Student representative Xiaoli Yang said “Thanks to all the uncles and aunties for your love. We have broadened our horizons and learned a lot of knowledge beyond books. In the future, we will use this classroom to study harder and will contribute more to the society."
Since its inception in August 2018, 13 TCS volunteers have undergone professional training by the Project Volunteer Online team, delivered 3-4 trial classes and passed an evaluation before they could start teaching children. Passing the evaluation takes much effort in practicing delivery of classes.
In order to ensure the stability of the course, each volunteer commits to teach at least for one semester that is 4 months long, taking a one-hour class once a week, totaling 16 hours of teaching per semester. Each volunteer needs to spend 1-2 hours to prepare the lessons before every class.
In the very first semester in 2018, more than 160 students of five primary schools in remote areas of Guizhou, Shanxi, Henan and Guangdong provinces have attended these classes on computers, arts and reading delivered by TCS volunteer teachers. After finishing the first year, TCS volunteers had a better understanding of students’ needs and life situations. Many volunteer sharing sessions and engagement activities were conducted in TCS China and many more TCSers signed up to volunteer for the program.
“Seeing the desire to learn in the eyes of the students strengthened my determination to volunteer as a teacher. A good teacher can have a great impact on the students. I hope that through the efforts of the volunteers, we can help children in rural areas and let then have the same quality education as children in cities. I hope we can bring a different future to the children in rural areas.” TCS volunteer teacher Yan Gong said.
In 2019, TCS Volunteers taught 187 students from 6 primary schools in 5 provinces. In 2020, more than 215 students of 5 primary schools in rural areas of Guizhou, Shanxi, Henan, Anhui, Gansu and Guangdong provinces are attending computer, arts and reading classes. So far, a total of 562 children from 8 different schools have benefitted from these classes.
Transferring Love and Care Through Engagement
As the program progressed, TCS volunteers realized that the students not only need knowledge but also personal interaction with the teachers. One of the volunteers, Hanxiao Peng once asked his students what their hopes and dreams were. “I hope my parents will come home and take me to buy new clothes for the New Year” one student replied. For many people, this is a small request, but this is the dream of a student in a rural school. These children really yearn for company.
After the first year of teaching, our volunteers visited some of the participant schools for an engaging interaction with the students that they grew fond of over time. In August 2019, two TCS volunteers visited Goumei primary school in Guangdong province and Siming primary school in Henan province. During their week-long visit, they interacted with the students and conducted “Draw your dream” activity there. The activity was aimed at raising funds to renovate classrooms in rural schools selected by TCS China NGO partner Project Volunteer Online. The students in Goumei primary school and Siming primary school were very happy to participate, painted beautiful pictures and then willingly donated their paintings that TCS CSR team auctioned to employees across TCS China. More than 450+ associates participated in the painting auction. The funds raised in the auction exceeded the original target by 8 times and helped to renovate 6 classrooms in 3 rural schools.
“What a rare and precious memory it is to be able to participate in such a meaningful charity activity. From this experience our students learned that helping others is a pleasure and everyone can do a good deed. Love can influence others around us and can be shared.” wrote one of the students, who participated in the “Draw your dream” activity, in an article published by Goumei Primary School.
Every year in December TCSers in China get together to paint cards or bags which are given as New Year Gifts to the students who participated in the Volunteer online STEAM program. 1,200+ TCSers have volunteered their time towards this, enabling 510+ students to receive gifts. This initiative not only connects TCS employees with students, but also engages TCS employees, their family members and TCS around the common goal of positively influencing the society around us.
When the COVID pandemic hit in 2020, TCS China held a fund-raising drive where the company matched employee’s contributions and the funds were used to donate safety essentials to students through Soong Ching Ling Foundation benefiting 2300+ students from 46 schools in rural areas. “Thank you very much for the safety material donated by TCS to our school! Thank you for your care for children in rural areas and thank you for your support and help to education in rural areas.” said the Principal of Aoguang Primary School on behalf of the teachers and students.
The TCS China Classroom Donation, Online learning program, Charity auction, renovated classrooms, COVID support and New Year gifts all fall into a beautiful cycle of giving, receiving and paying forward that impact the lives of children in remote villages across China.