In this digital era, even the thought of not having a smartphone to order a meal or not having Google to answer every little query seems unrealistic…
While it is common belief that digital is the future and digital education and empowerment is the way forward for the growth of a country, ironically, several students in rural India still do not have access to basic computers to even fathom its capabilities.
Lack of basic infrastructure, electricity and trained teachers often hinder the overall development of such kids.
Standing apart, a Zila Parishad School in Nandur Village of Daund Taluka in Pune District is going against all odds to impart digital education to the underprivileged students of the village and surrounding areas to ensure their development is not compromised.
Aware of the growing need of digital education, this school stands testimony to the fact that a teacher with the will can change the future of their students.
Situated off Solapur Highway, in a quaint village where no public transportation is available, this school has 175 children of factory or domestic workers, some of whom walk nearly six kilometres to attend school.
“Digitally empowering these kids is essential to make them at par with the urban kids so that they are not short of any value when they move to high secondary schools or colleges to complete their further education,” shares Vijay Thombare, the school principal.
“Our’s is the only school in the Taluka to have a computer laboratory.
The seed of digitally empowering these kids who come from the weaker sections of the society was engrained by Santosh Talaghatti, a Pioneer of Global Classrooms in India.”
Santosh Talaghatti aims at connecting 100000 primary and secondary schools to the global experts. As a change management innovator, he has a decade of experience in education technology and e-governance.
It was only a couple of months ago that they managed to establish a fully functional computer lab with the help of the Panchayat, the companies in the vicinity and humble donors who contributed in setting up the lab for these kids.
They were later joined by an alumnus of this school, currently a computer engineer, who agreed to volunteer and teach the students.
“Every day the kids are assigned time slots to handle and learn the various software and programmes on the computer.
“The most exciting day of the entire week for the students is Saturday when we get them in touch with various experts in different fields who share their nuances with the kids and teach them additional skills.
“Santosh Talaghatti also takes a one-hour interactive session with the kids over Skype on communication skills and confidence building.
“Initially the kids were fascinated to interact with someone live through a screen and now they look forward to such sessions that are fun and involves a lot of advance learning,” shares national level award winner and a teacher at the school, Madhuri Pramod Velhal.
Although the entire staff is dedicated to empowering these students, there are some challenges that they still have to battle with.
“Access to electricity 24*7 is the major problem here. Due to which a lot of time is wasted,” shares Rohini Rajendra Lokhande, a faculty member.
“A stable internet connection is another problem that we are dealing with. However, we have managed to connect to the experts over video calling through a Wi-Fi dongle bought by the principal himself.
Whatever funds we receive are not enough to get a battery backup or a stable connection hence the faculty try to pitch in whatever they can so that the development of these kids isn’t hindered.
“The kids here are very talented and absorb all that is taught to them very efficiently. Hence, we leave no stone un-turned to make them equally educated as kids in other private school, and giving them digital education is one of our missions,” adds Lokhande.
While on one hand we speak about reaching the stars and developing high-tech weapons, the future of our kids is compromised due to lack of infrastructure and access to basic necessities even today.
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