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Himachal Pradesh Improves Foundational Learning with a Mobile App

During the early years of a child’s education, they are working to master the skills that will become the building blocks for their future. The State of Himachal Pradesh, with support from Samagra Governance, partnered with Google to develop a mobile app that is helping students develop foundational literacy and numeracy (FLN) skills.

How a Mobile App is Advancing Literacy and Numeracy

Students with a strong foundation in reading, writing, and math have the skills in place to advance their learning and take full advantage of their time in the classroom. These foundational skills are also essential to build subject knowledge as children advance to middle and high school, as well as to the world of work.

Due to longstanding challenges in India’s schools, millions of children across the country lack basic reading and math skills. In one striking example, a 2022 NCERT study found that only 27% of grade three students in Himachal Pradesh are able to read grade two content. To address this need, the National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat) was established with the ambitious target of achieving universal literacy and numeracy across India by 2026.

As part of the NIPUN Bharat Mission, the State of Himachal Pradesh partnered with Google to develop a mobile app called NIPUN Lakshya Abhyas. The app helps students practice reading (abhyas is Hindi for “practice”) and enables teachers to assess whether students are reaching their literacy goals (lakshya). Teachers use the NIPUN Lakshya Abhyas app in the classroom for one-on-one engagement with students, allowing them to practice FLN skills in a consistent and engaging way.

A New Tool for Learning

Since launching the app, students, teachers, and families in Himachal Pradesh have seen several key benefits, including:

  • Making practice fun: Students practice FLN skills in a fun and engaging way, with adaptive questions that match their level of difficulty. The app also provides instant feedback and recognition to motivate them to improve.
  • Tracking student progress: Teachers can monitor the progress of each student through a 5-minute FLN assessment of oral reading fluency and numeracy. Student-level and class reports are available directly in the app, providing teachers rapid feedback on student competencies. The app is also integrated with the state’s management information system.
  • Engaging parents in students’ learning: Parents and teachers alike are equipped with data to map each child’s progress on FLN skills. The student report cards discussed during quarterly parent-teacher meetings include scores from NIPUN Lakshya Abhyas, and app data is also integrated with the state’s flagship school and parent communication portal E-Samwad. Schools have seen rising interest among parents who have requested login access to the app to help their children practice at home.

From Engagement to Outcomes

The NIPUN Lakshya Abhyas app was launched with large-scale online trainings and webinars for teachers and field officials, backed with regular SMS and WhatsApp nudges to officials and teachers to encourage usage. The state and its partners also improved the user interface and experience based on feedback and testing during the pilot phase.

Accordingly, the app has seen strong traction and engagement across schools in Himachal Pradesh.

  • Over 8,000 schools – 80% of all primary schools – have conducted NIPUN practice assessments for their students in the last six months, covering 75% of the student population, with a median of 3.5 assessments attempted by each student.

The consistent practice and data-driven decision-making made possible by this mobile app are making a difference in students’ learning outcomes.

  • As of May 2023, 50% of students have achieved “NIPUN” or “NIPUN Ready” status, up from 32.5% in November 2022.
  • Moreover, 48% of those who were “NIPUN Ready” have progressed to “NIPUN” through consistent practice.

This innovative use of technology in the classroom can serve as a model for other states to ensure more students thrive in their foundational learning.

This initiative is part of the Samarth program, which was launched in 2016 by the Department of Education in Himachal Pradesh. Samarth is a systemic education transformation program that the foundation supports in partnership with Samagra Governance.