Undermining the importance of education in the life of an individual is a fool’s act. Those of us residing in cities are luckier in that aspect. It’s not hard for people who live in urban areas to get their school and college education.
But what about those in the villages? Are we to condemn them to a life of illiteracy?
Thankfully, there are people out there looking out for them. One such man is Professor Sugata Mitra who was a chief scientist at NIIT in 1999 and is renowned for setting up the ‘hole in the wall’ learning lab for street children.
Now, he has decided to set up a solar-power lab by the name of ‘school in the cloud’ in a small village called Korakati, which is located 110km from Kolkata and lies inside Sundarbans (a mangrove forest).
The idea was pitched to him by a teacher from Korakati, who travelled long miles and miles only for a rendezvous with the Professor.
Professor Mitra was convinced that this village without electricity or health care was a perfect location to set up such a school.
School in The Cloud relies on virtual form of learning. The students are taught by ‘grannies’ which is a group of retired teachers. The grannies act as mentors to the children and help guide the children through their education.
The children rely on internet for learning. For example, they learn origami through watching youtube videos with the help of their grannies.
Another task they indulge into is surfing the internet in search of answers to the various questions posed by their mentors. This session is held in groups without any help from the coordinators.
Through such methods, the students have significantly developed their English speech, comprehension and reading among other skills.
The students even teach themselves and their peers which is even far above the current level of education provided to the children of their age group in cities.
The man behind the whole system, professor Mitra said, “What we are looking at is minimally invasive learning and not unguided learning. Until it can replace the conventional learning system, it can complement it.”
And with the education on our country being on the brink of stagnation and too rigid for its own good, such innovations to provide education is the need of the hour.
School in the cloud is a truly applaudable step in a quest to make the whole of India educated and not just those who were born lucky enough to afford it.
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.