By Jai Kamal
The UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (UNESCO MGIEP) has started a project called Youth-Led Monitoring (YLM) in India. We believe that learning should not be a measure of the amount of knowledge that one has, but rather the amount of knowledge one applies in real life. Cognitive learning is not fully fruitful unless it is applied on a day-to-day basis. YLM is an effort to measure learning through community activities. These activities are typically meant for solving issues faced by that particular community. By these activities, community members not only solve the issue but also learn to fix other issues similar to the issue they have recently dealt with. In addition, this project focuses on communal rather than individual learning. Measuring learning can help us in monitoring Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education and T- learning.
The proposed framework allows local communities from around the world to monitor the issues they face, how these issues change over time, and what actions trigger those changes. The nexus issues that we are dealing with include, among many others, gender inequality, hunger, poverty, climate change, poor health conditions. In fact, we are open to issues related any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As our objective is to capture the learning through community activity, learning by taking actions to mitigate any SDG related issue will help us in achieving it. Information Communication Technology (ICT) driven solutions for data collection and data analytics play a major role in supporting and accomplishing this project. Most importantly, young people who are motivated to improve the situation of their community will be the key drivers of the project.
Consider a youth organisation or NGO which is actively working towards a cause in a local community. The local community faces a set of issues, and they have been working for a long time towards understanding and eradicating these issues. Now, imagine a crowd-sourcing campaign, where youth organisations ask their local community members to report back whenever they see any of these problems. Whenever a community member notices any of the problems listed above, they simply use an app to report back the location of the incident, the associated problem, along with optional media elements such as pictures, video and audio clips, etc. Thus, youth organisations and NGOs which are actively working towards a cause, would be primarily responsible for initiating and promoting the crowdsourcing campaign.
As a result of this crowdsourcing campaign, community members, especially young people, can collect data and report on three major types of information, namely: problems, actions, and indicators of change. For example, community members can report malaria epidemic as a problem, awareness programs to avoid malaria as an action and they might use the number of overall hospital visits as an indicator of change. To this end, UNESCO MGIEP has begun to build a user-friendly mobile app, which will help in collection of data and it will also provide insights in the form of a colourful map which will help users to see the progress of their community over time in resolving the issues their community members have reported. The project will also help youth organisations in getting both the data from our mobile application and the meaningful insights based on their community’s data.
Once a sufficient amount of data on issues, actions and indicators of change is collected, we will be in a position to measure the amount of learning using mathematical tools such as spatial correlation. We are further exploring ways to map the data collected through the YLM application especially to T-learning. Mapping the learning captured using mobile application to T-learning is a challenge and we are hopeful that we will be able to do it in relation to the definition of T-learning, and in doing so also contribute to the definition of T-learning.
UNESCO MGIEP is planning to run this project in two phases. In the first phase, we plan to partner with India-based youth organisations/ NGOs and once this phase is successful, we will start second phase. Currently, as we are in first phase, we are contacting potential youth organisations from two cities of India (New Delhi and other city is yet to be decided). We are planning to take one urban site and one sub –urban site. In the second phase, the communities around the world can participate in this project. As IT based solutions can easily overcome geographical differences, it will be crucial project in motoring learning globally and thus it can help in transforming the life of millions.