The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has partnered with Microsoft India to deploy its cloud-hosted, community learning platform, Project Sangam, for the Swachh Bharat Mission. The Swachh Bharat e-learning portal has been powered by Project Sangam to enable delivery of large-scale, widespread training programmes with high quality and efficiency. Till date, this collaboration has resulted in the successful training of over 110,000 municipal functionaries across 4,000 cities in best sanitation practices. Further, the platform has already received over 1 million course enrolments.
All about the e-platform
One of the key objectives of the Swachh Bharat Mission is to ensure its sustainability by strengthening the capacities of stakeholders, by familiarising them with new concepts in the field of sanitation and waste management. The Project Sangam platform enables delivery of simple and easy-to-learn skills to the target audience, thereby ensuring high course completion rates and increased attendance. For the Swachh Bharat Mission, the e-learning portal draws from the leading practices in the sanitation segment and introduces these to municipal functionaries.
The administrators of the portal are responsible for content creation, user management, communication, analytics and portal branding. The Sangam portal follows a role-based administration hierarchy. The four administrator roles supported on the portal are: organisation administrator, group administrator, category administrator and course administrator. The organisation administrator has complete access to the Sangam portal and oversees the activities of the other three categories of administrators as well as of users. The group administrators are responsible for facilitating group creation and assisting group users. They are responsible for assigning courses to the groups, putting up notifications and making announcements. The category administrators are responsible for content creation and the management of one or more categories on the portal. Lastly, the course administrators are responsible for the creation of one or more courses on the platform. Through the Sangam portal, the administrators can oversee a range of activities on the platform. These include tracking of enrolments, engagements and course completion, course comparisons in terms of enrolments, trends over a period of time, and alerts about courses, learners and categories; managing groups and their users; taking actions and assigning courses to groups; viewing detailed learner performance; downloading reports; and sending announcements.
For learners, the platform offers ease of use and flexibility to access the content on the device of their choice. It is an agnostic solution, which can be hosted in any of the four ways – as a standalone white-labelled web application, a mobile application, within the Microsoft applications such as Teams and Kaizala as well as via programme interface integrated into a customer-owned application. The learners can register themselves on the platform with their mobile numbers, or email addresses or using any of their existing Microsoft/Facebook/gmail accounts. Upon completion of the registration process, they can log in with their credentials and access the courses. Every course comprises lessons in the form of videos, PDF documents and PowerPoint presentations. By enabling download of short videos and PDF documents, users can continue to learn even if they are offline. Therefore, Project Sangam enables anytime, anywhere learning on any device.
Every lesson has a discussion forum where learners can ask questions and interact with each other. Some courses also have a practice test or an exam. Post course completion, learners may be rewarded with a certificate from the organisation.
Given the huge scale of the Swachh Bharat Mission, MoHUA wanted to standardise, centralise, modernise and establish systems of knowledge exchange, and develop capacity for its successful implementation. The Sangam platform has been successful in reaching out to various players involved in the mission – municipal functionaries of state sanitation missions, city managers, engineers, administrators, field supervisors and sanitation workers. It has provided a means to equip, assess, measure and accredit training of those involved.
The collaboration with Microsoft India has helped in increasing the adoption of best practices and equipping the workers with the knowledge required for performing the tasks assigned much more efficiently. The platform’s design enables organisations to reach the length and breadth of their target audience. Irrespective of the end user, the innovative Sangam portal ensures a continuous learning process.
Powering other initiatives
For the Indian handloom industry, the second largest employment provider for the rural population in India, Project Sangam has extended support to Project ReWeave, which aims at helping handloom weavers and their families revive the handloom weaving ecosystem in India. Project Sangam is helping to develop the skills of the weaver community in critical aspects such as design, marketing and entrepreneurship. In addition, the platform provides training to weavers in the use of natural dyes. This will enable them to make newer and sustainable hand-woven products for meeting the demands of environmentally and socially aware consumers.
Microsoft has collaborated with Digital Green, a global development organisation aimed at empowering farmers, to develop multimedia courseware for farmers and front-line workers. Project Sangam enables the Training Courseware application used by Digital Green to train and assess front-line workers and farmers across districts in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Jharkhand. Through the training provided, front-line workers produce and disseminate videos on agricultural practices in their communities. The training dashboard collects data from the courses taken by front-line workers, assessments application and interactions with farmers for making further improvements in the courseware.
Microsoft has also partnered with the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) in South Africa to run Thint’iMillion, an online mass learning system deployed on the Sangam platform, as part of the Tshepo 1Million Digital Mass learning program being undertaken at public libraries in Gauteng province. The online digital skills program is customised for the South African youth and low bandwidth environments such as rural schools. The program can be accessed via an Android application or a web portal reachable from any internet-connected computer or device. It will be made available at 100 public libraries, 500 schools and three universities, providing youth with no-cost access even if they are not connected through a phone, tablet, or computer. Upon completion of the online course, the participants will receive certificates. Through the wider Tshepo 1Million initiative, GPG aims to equip 1 million young jobseekers with the right skills. This training will be provided to at least 400,000 youth by mid-2019.
The way forward
In the second phase of the Swachh Bharat Mission’s e-learning portal, MoHUA plans to roll out a Citizen Training Programme on public conveniences, waste management, household hygiene and sanitation best practices. It will go a long way in improving urban sanitation through large-scale citizen participation and increased awareness across all sections of society. The adoption of such digitally powered solutions for skill development has become imperative. Gradually, more sectors are expected to open up similar avenues for imparting skills.