Published: 18th April 2020
How RISE is delivering online classes to Kashmiri students, despite 2G internet and lockdown
The institute that was set up in 2012 to coach Kashmiri students to ace JEE, NEET and SAT
In the past few weeks, classrooms and workstations across India have shifted to people's homes. Even though the country is under lockdown and people are maintaining social distancing, work and education are not on a break, thanks to the internet. However, things aren't the same everywhere. Case in point, Kashmir. Even though the internet lockdown in the valley was lifted earlier in 2020, people still haven't been able to access online content fully, owing to the slow internet speed. Recently, we were told about a doctor who took 9 hours to download a 24 MB-heavy file. So, in this scenario, how do Kashmiri students attend their classes and coaching?
Mubeen Masudi, the co-founder of RISE, an institute launched to coach Kashmiri students to get enrolled in the best colleges across the world has a solution. On Tuesday, he tweeted, "I intend to start free mathematics/science online classes for class 10 JKBOSE students. It will be accessible through 2G. I have the tech solution to implement it as I am doing it for my existing class 11/12 students. I need volunteers for maximising reach and efficiency." Keen to know more about this, we caught up with this IIT grad. Excerpts from the conversation:
Could you tell us a little about RISE?
RISE was launched in 2012 to train high school students for college admissions - JEE, NEET and SAT. The idea was to increase the number of Kashmiri students in these institutes. Given the politics there, hardly any Kashmiri students make it to these schools. The idea was to start an organisation that creates awareness about these opportunities and then coach students to pursue these. In 2018, a few of our students went to the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton with a hundred per cent scholarship. Some of our students even made it to IITs. We have worked with the government in conducting talent search examinations too.
Were you able to continue coaching without any break, after August 5?
From August until November, the entire valley was shut down. However, from November, we restarted our classes after mobiles became operational. We got in touch with our students and started organising classes from 5 am to 7 am. We did that for a couple of months. By the end of December, the situation was conducive enough for regular activities. But after February, the state government announced the COVID lockdown.
How do you manage online classes with the current internet speed?
It's almost impossible to download anything in the valley. Until recently, social media was banned. But once the restriction was removed, people started getting 2G. However, we couldn't start video classes. That was when we tried Zoom classes via Whiteboard. Students got whiteboard access and not videos, just like Khan Academy. We also ensure that their audios are on mute and videos are switched off. Doubts are cleared via chat. We had done it previously too. So we thought, why not do it for class X students, who had no access to regular education since August.
How many students have registered until now?
I got 300 registrations in less than 24 hours. I had kept it free this time. But from the next time, I thought I'll charge Rs 1,000 per student and donate it to an NGO that provides PPE to doctors. But the priority is to provide good learning opportunities. The classes will begin soon.