Technology has immense potential to create a SUSTAINABLE impact if innovation is approached in a collaborative and ethical way
If you can see that technology can change the world, then you might be in the best phase of evolution. Tech ideas were, are, and will be the future for nonprofits that have a societal dimension.
I was working with the National Informatics Centre (NIC) in Chhattisgarh prior to joining Indus Action. My data-driven work at NIC was identified to handle the technological challenges of the RTE portal of Chhattisgarh. RTE 12 (1) (c) was implemented in the state in 2009-2010 and it became fully operational in offline mode from 2011. The pilot testing of the RTE portal started in the city of Raipur almost 6 years after the launch, i.e. 2017-2018, which turned out to be a huge success. The portal was launched in the next academic year, and we were helping the Department to run the systems and train the schools for enrollment-related operations. The strategic shift to improve the efficiency of the portal and innovate began with h design thinking. 2020 and 2021 marked the new age of digital redesign.
Once the online admission procedure began in the state, there were multiple operations to handle, such as admission forms, disbursement of funds to schools, tracking enrollment objectives, FAQs and other queries. I was not equipped with the skills to maintain the portal and check the hygiene of the functions on the website. Therefore, I was trained over 6-months to support the RTE portal implementation and was recruited as a NIC fellow to develop a full-scale responsive portal.
A view of RTE portal – Chhattisgarh.
My functions necessarily included:
TO MAINTAIN: the functioning of the site
TO MODIFY: and accommodate the requests for ensuring high efficiency
TO IMPLEMENT: new tech policy decisions made on the server
Madhu Verma, Senior Tech Manager, working on the RTE PORTAL in Chhattisgarh
Our inputs on the RTE portal have been to reduce unwanted channels, ensure quality, and work towards sustainability. The year 2020 was exceptional since the pandemic hampered school functions, admissions took a hit, and enrollments were affected. Adding a feature to the portal on the RTE Student Tracking System really helped us to understand the intricate details in enrollment, retention, and student performance. Students enrolled under RTE and non-RTE students are carefully assessed based on their marks, grade sheets, and other scholastic/co-scholastic areas. This helps to study their learning curve and aid schools to focus on individuals who are in need of adequate guidance.
Specifically, the PFMS (Public Financial Management System) module-interface is one such tech re-design element that is being explored currently (2021). This interface will allow the Chhattisgarh RTE portal to reduce existing tedious transaction methods. The process flow so far has been run through DEO (District Education Officer), who then used to disburse the Direct Benefit Transfer to schools accordingly. The process turned out to be slow, with difficulty in manually tracking the fund transfer, and in a few cases, glitches in fund flow were identified. The PFMS module will overcome all these setbacks and speed up the process by 2X. The interface would cut all the channels and centralise the DBT flow to school. This would bring more accountability among the Government agencies and School bodies. At the end of the day, your tech solutions can reap benefits only if you think about how to manage all these ideas, i.e. keeping the capitalist model in a regulated model, while having agile authorities at the Government level at the same time.
As I look back, I’ve realised that it generally takes a network of public policy leaders, technology enthusiasts, and investors who develop and finance technical and digital solutions to accelerate the transition towards a more sustainable and responsible society. The objective of such a network coming together should be to create within the ecosystem an ideal model of tomorrow’s ‘Tech World’, which is concerned about and focused on its purpose and social externalities. This can only be achieved by carrying out an ethical reflection on the role and use of innovation to bring about systemic change.
This blog was authored by Madhu Verma, Senior Manager Tech, Chhattisgarh.