In an attempt to bridge this gap, the Essar Foundation joined hand with Hole-In-The-Wall Education Limited (HiWEL), a venture of NIIT Ltd, for working towards achieving the goal of improving the outcomes of elementary education near its power plant project area at Latehar district of Jharkhand. The overall goal of the project was to provide effective educational and learning solutions to the underprivileged children residing in Essar Power (Jharkhand) Limited project villages.
The Hole in the wall - a learning station designed by NIIT, was initiated as a research project in Delhi slums in 1999. Dr. Sugata Mitra, Chief Scientist at NIIT, is credited with the discovery of Hole-in-the-Wall. As early as 1982, he had been toying with the idea of unsupervised learning and computers. Finally, in 1999, he decided to test his ideas in the field. On 26th January, Dr. Mitra's team carved a "hole in the wall" that separated the NIIT premises from the adjoining slum in Kalkaji, New Delhi. Through this hole, a freely accessible computer was put up for use. This computer proved to be an instant hit among the slum dwellers, especially the children. With no prior experience, the children learnt to use the computer on their own. This prompted Dr. Mitra to propose the following hypothesis:
The acquisition of basic computing skills by any set of children can be achieved through incidental learning provided the learners are given access to a suitable computing facility, with entertaining and motivating content and some minimal (human) guidance.
Dr Deepak Arora, VP, Essar Foundation, adds, "We commissioned two Playground Learning Station's (PLS) specially designed ICT Learning Kiosks by HiWEL, one at Government Middle School, Chakla and another at New Primary School, Chatro built by Essar. One PLS consists of 2 multimedia computers, associated hardware and peripheral devices to provide open and outdoor access to computers by children. The device runs on solar panel. The local teachers were provided training by HiWEL officials for better usage of the learning stations by the children. Multi grade educational content provided at the learning station focuses on addressing the learning needs. The approach is to generate and sustain interest among children across all classes. The set of content installed includes educational games to enable children learn concepts in English, Maths, IT and Science, puzzles and quizzes to foster analytical and reasoning skill, Educational videos on fundamentals in English, Hindi, Mathematics, Science, Life Skills, Environment and Social Science."