Urvashi Sahni builds affordable systems to solve end-to-end educational problems. Bridging education inequality through her organization: Digital Study Hall (DSH), she leverages digital technology to create flexible teaching methods to address major challenges faced by overburdened education systems.
Beginning with content creation, Urvashi has mobilized a range of educationalists within communities to demonstrate their innovations in audience specific videos for typically underserved rural and slum schools. Within each of these communities DSH acts as a knowledge hub centering on content production, content dissemination in its neighborhood, teacher training, monitoring, and evaluation, and interacting and sharing with other hubs. This community-based effort brings together the best teachers across public and private schools, as well as a range of stakeholders from within the communities, including parents and civil society organisations. The key to DSH’s success is its principle of ‘mediation-based pedagogy’ where a teacher helps students engage with the video. While the previous means of dissemination relied on distributing DVD’s and TV’s to teachers, DSH is now capitalizing on the widespread mobile and internet network, using mobile phones as a medium to distribute their content. With a viewership of over a 100,000, Urvashi has now expanded to over 65 schools in Uttar Pradesh, and is looking to add a 100 more in the next year.
Currently, Urvashi is using DSH technology as the framework for her new initiative of girl empowerment. By combining video with face-to-face dialogues through a range of interventions, particularly in drama, she has made themes like domestic violence, sexual abuse and child marriage accessible in the school classroom. Currently, the program operates in 3 districts in Uttar Pradesh, covering 41 girls residential schools, and has reached out to around 3800 adolescent girls from underserved areas. Technology has served DSH as a good facilitator of education and Urvashi has successfully replicated the DSH model in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Having become a repository for educational talent in the country, Urvashi sees DSH playing a huge role in addressing access to quality education for some of the most marginalised communities: the urban and rural poor, and children with special needs.
Note: This was updated in July, 2014. Read on for the ELECTION profile.