Purnima Valiathan

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Financial Inclusion Certification Program – A Case Study

Project Specifics

  • Customer: TrainingCentral
  • Training Type: Certification in basic finance and banking concepts, and products and procedures
  • Training Duration: 30 hours
  • Training Delivery: Blended (Online learning modules and offline assignments)

The Challenge: A Leap of Faith

We were approached by TrainingCentral with a unique training need. This wasn’t the regular vanilla project. The target audience wasn’t your white-collar worker with formal higher education and a few years of professional experience. It was a certification program that was to be designed for rural Indian women across many states in India, a majority of who would have at most studied up to Standard 12. They were busy homemakers, used to doing physical tasks more than mental processing. The content to be disseminated was financial concepts, something far removed from their realm of operation. And the training goal was to encourage them to adopt financial planning and become active participants in making their village financially literate. Not an easy goal, but at ID Mentors, we are always up to a challenge because that’s what keeps us learning and evolving as Instructional Design professionals. 

Some of the key challenges in this project were:

  • A diverse audience, since this was a multi-state project across India

How could we connect with all given the diversity?

  • The learning duration – about 30 hours in total, for an audience not used to formal education

What could we do to keep the drop-out rates low?

  • Training delivery using technology, given the scale of the project

How could we get this audience to embrace technology as the learning medium?

We didn’t have the answers to all these questions when we started, but we were certain we would find them as we went along.

The Solution

Analysis – A rural retreat and some course correction

We kick-started the project with a trip to a few rural areas, to see the target audience in person and gather insights about their likes, dislikes, challenges, and aspirations. Like it is with most learning projects, we made some assumptions to start with. However, we were duly surprised when we met some of these women and got talking to them. What they lacked in formal knowledge, they made up for aptly with their earthy wisdom, which they had acquired through solid life experiences. We furiously jotted down all their home-grown similes’, proverbs and stories. We looked around and clicked pictures so that we could create a real rural environment and not one that we had conjured up. The trip helped us break the stereotype that we had in mind of a rural Indian woman, and gave us ample fodder that we could use to design the certification program. In short, it would be safe to sum this up as a trip where knowledge met wisdom.

Design – A colourful world with universal appeal

A successful and effective learning solution is one where you can take the learners from the familiar to the unfamiliar. The success of the solution also depends on how well you are able to connect the learning material with the ecosystem that the learners inhabit. Last, but not the least, learners must clearly see how spending their valuable time on something like this will benefit and change their lives for the better. Keeping these factors in mind we created a colourful fictional world – one that is set in a village with a group of people having names that depicted their personality traits – a constantly worried but talented potter, a cheerful homemaker with a talent for knitting, a happy-go-lucky peon in the local school, a farmer with some livestock and so on. The character sketches were designed to ensure universal appeal – the personality traits help the audience to connect, as against clothes and appearance.

And the main protagonist is aptly named Vidya, who embarks on a journey to become a certified professional in financial inclusion. She serves as the role model for these village women, who could see in her, their aspirations and the trajectory to achieve them.

Design – Dovetailing financial concepts and products with a real need

Every module begins with a financial need that one of the characters has. The character is helped by the protagonist, Vidya, who explains how a financial product/service can address the need. She then walks them through the procedure to avail this and also helps the character with gathering and completing all the necessary paperwork. This was done to connect with the target audience – starting with a need would ensure they found the learning material relevant.

Delivery – A Helping Hand

The certification program is delivered through an app that is easily accessible on smartphones and tablets. The target audience is also equipped with a project kit that comprises of a number of financial artifacts that are a part of the course. Every village is assigned a mentor who gets the learners started with the learning program by helping them use the smartphone to access the learning material. The mentor also periodically checks on their progress. 

Delivery – Input and Output

No learning sticks, unless the input (learning) is processed and an output is generated.  Therefore, at the end of each module, the learner has to complete a real-world task, such as filling up an application form for opening a bank account or applying for a PAN card. This is uploaded to the learning portal and is checked and returned by the assigned mentor. 

The certification program is currently operational in Rajasthan, Assam and Maharashtra.


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