Smart Technology Provides Rural Children with Equitable Access to Education

Smart Technology Provides Rural Children with Equitable Access to Education

In China’s rural regions, there are many smaller schools with only a handful of students. To ensure an equitable quality of education, iFLYTEK has been seeking developing AI technology to meet the specific needs of the more isolated academic institutions.

For example, in the rural suburbs of Wuhu, Anhui Province, there is a “teaching site” named Baihua. During its prime time, the Baihua Primary School had over 300 students, yet now only four students and two teachers.

Smart Technology Provides Rural Children with Equitable Access to Education

“I have worked for 35 years in rural schools. I got opportunities to work in the town. But I know that rural children often face some special problems which I can fully understand as I also come from a rural background. For example, of the 4 students I’m teaching, two are left behind by their parents who work away; one lives very far away from school; and the other comes from a family with disabled parents, so she must study here rather than go to a larger school. That’s why I’m willing to work here to help the rural children and the left-behind children,” Ye Lin said, one of the school’s two teachers.

Fu Dongqing, director of general affairs of the Sanyuan Primary School, takes charge of the Baihua teaching site. He said: “Although there are only 4 students. We have provided them with learning pads installed with iFLYTEK’s Smart Classroom system, with Ms. Liu being designated to teach with the help of the smart system.”

Ms. Liu Caijun is the most recent addition to the schools teaching staff. She said: “This is my sixth year of teaching. I used to teach many students in crowded classrooms. Now there are only four. The stark difference posed challenges for me that necessitated greater responsibility.”

Liu teaches Chinese, English, moral education, and calligraphy, with Ye being responsible for the other subjects. As such, they have worked in close cooperation to perform all the teaching tasks at the Baihua teaching site.

There are other schools in rural China facing similar problems. For example, at the Xiezhuang Primary School in Linquan County, Anhui Province, 13 teachers (including the headmaster) share the workload of giving lessons in a dozen subjects to seven different classes. But what concerns the dedicated teachers most is the urban-rural gap facing their students. “Compared with children in cities, rural students have limited first-hand experiences. It’s difficult for them to imagine and understand the things described in the textbooks, such as the roaring Yellow River and the winding Great Wall,” said Li Daofeng, a teacher at the school.

It’s widely believed that equitable education can only be realized when each student is attended to as their problems can be quickly addressed and their rights to education are fully guaranteed.

As educational infrastructure has been improved to better assist teaching in rural areas, artificial intelligence is emerging as a key area of growth in the process. For instance, in October 2020, the Wanzhi District of Wuhu, Anhui Province launched the “Targeted Teaching and

Smart School” program in cooperation with iFLYTEK. Within the framework of the project, iFLYTEK has provided multiple products and solutions, including smart classroom, personalized learning, electronic signs, smart PE education, and smart preschool education, covering 28 schools and nearly 25,000 students in the district.

The 4 students at the Baihua teaching site are among those who have benefited from the program. Each of them has received a learning pad and their classroom is equipped with an electronic screen that better presents teaching materials. In the smart classroom, the teacher Liu Caijun can track the learning of the students and make adjustments accordingly.

“Although they are in the countryside, the children have equal access to smart devices just like students in cities. I believe it will pave the way for their future development,” Fu said.

iFLYTEK has worked to apply artificial intelligence to improve education and enable teachers and students to transcend the school walls and the urban-rural boundary to freely enjoy quality education resources. As of now, the company’s smart education products have been adopted in over 50,000 schools around 32 provinces in the country, serving more than 100 million teachers and students.

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