The IVRS or Interactive Voice Response System is a useful addition to our project interventions. IVRS is a mobile phone based communication platform. Mobile phones have reached almost each village in the country and are present in each home. Mobile phones have penetrated deep into rural sectors in India but do they help rural communities? Can the access to mobile phones solve social problems? Can a mobile phone help adolescents? Can communities have the ownership and access to a technology that provides them with information that they can use to resolve their queries? Can technology be used for leadership development and aiding community networking?
CHSJ has developed Kishor Varta, a communication platform for adolescents. This system allows a person to call a toll-free number – 1800112013 and listen to a recording of information on issues of gender equality, body literacy, health, delaying age at marriage, etc. This information is provided to them in the form of audio stories. Four main characters have been created, who through their life stories and the various incidents in their life, make the callers solve their key problems and chose their future course of actions. The characters and stories are- Lakhanpur ka Raju, Dada ka Gussa, Haldi ki Jaldi, Dulhan ki Baatein.
Lakhanpur ka Raju covers issues of gender equality, gender roles; Dada ka Gussa covers body literacy and dispelling myths around RSHR; Haldi ki Jaldi talks about delaying age at marriage and consent; Dulhan ki Baatein covers issues of caring roles, contraceptive use, etc.
Each story has four sub-parts. Each episode will run for 3 months and then another set of episodes will be added. The stories are being developed in Hindi and in Marathi.
A ground level pilot in on in Bundi district of Rajasthan with adolescent students in 30 schools. This work is in partnership with Manjari Sansthan in Bundi.
Callers can also give feedback or ask questions. A response sms will be sent to the caller. It is expected that upon hearing the information/ asking questions and receiving timely responses, the caller will share the information with his peers leading to a wider dissemination of information and services or the creation of a group of discussants. Many of the peers will also be interested in asking their own questions or listening to information of their interest.
As the responses will be sent to the callers, some sort of new values will be promoted. The discussants will engage with this new value set and this will lead to discussions and debates among them. Eventually, a new action might be taken or new norm may be set and this too can be told on the IVRS as a story of change.
A set of posters has been developed to promote the usage of Kishor Varta. A factbook is being developed to assist teachers in discussing the issues being raised through stories. A comic book and animated film are also planned.