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HP partners Akshara Foundation to improve education for Indian students

Zafirah Salim | March 30, 2015
HP data scientists analysed data on resources, facilities and records of education attainment to identify the triggers for better learning outcomes.

HP announced today its partnership with Akshara Foundation to improve the education experience for over a million school children across the Indian state of Karnataka.

Akshara Foundation is an Indian NGO that delivers solutions to provide equitable educational access to young school children, with a mission to have every child in school and learning well.

According to a media statement, the Foundation needed to identify the resources and facilities needed in schools to improve the reading and math skills of students in government primary schools in India. However, the vast amounts of data from multiple, disparate government and corporate sources made it difficult to gain meaningful insight.

"Akshara Foundation had a wealth of data on over a million school children across nine years," said Ashok Kamath, Chairman, Akshara Foundation. "We needed a way to turn this data into information that would enable us to make better decisions on which initiatives were helping students to learn and which weren't."

As such, HP data scientists have volunteered to analyse data on resources, facilities and records of education attainment to identify the triggers for better learning outcomes. The data analytics uncovered insights, such as the link between education resources, facilities and student retention; and empowers Akshara Foundation to make better informed decisions on initiatives with the greatest student impact. 

The solution went beyond mathematical algorithms, and results were presented in a clear and easily understood format. For example, HP built a custom dashboard that provided insights that include the optimal pupil-teacher ratio, and the ideal number of books per child for the best educational outcomes.

"A valuable insight the dashboard provided was that engagement was particularly low among 11 to 14-year old girls," said Rajesh Krishnan, data scientist from HP's Analytics and Data Management Practice, who also pioneered the partnership. "However, on further analysis, we found that the introduction of separate bathrooms helped to significantly reduce drop-out rates. To have identified a way to keep this demographic in school is incredibly valuable."

This project has earned the HP volunteers the "2014 Global Volunteer Challenge: Most Impactful Programme" award, securing a US$20,000 grant for the Akshara Foundation.

The Foundation said that it plans to use the HP grant to further develop the Karanataka Learning Partnership collaborative platform. It added that it also plans to combine school and community data on education and engage HP's data analytics capabilities for greater impact. With this progressive use of data and analytics, HP and Akshara Foundation hope to extend the program across India, continuing to improve learning outcomes for millions of students.


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