Published: 04th November 2019
This van carrying solar-powered PCs is teaching India's village kids about the internet, social media
Abhilash Abraham of Edimpact speaks about what goes into training government school students with the help of their solar powered mobile computer lab
Do you know what Article 21A of our Constitution states? Let's brush up that memory of yours. Article 21A states that the State must provide free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of six to fourteen years. And free education should not only mean limiting children to learning lessons from textbooks. To ensure this, in the past few years, the government has been providing computers to government schools so that children learn some much-needed tech skills. But the sad truth is that in most of the remote areas across India, the schools lack electricity and internet connectivity.
Joining the government in their initiative, Edimpact, an EdTech company based out of Jharkhand, launched the Surya Kiran Project last year under which they educate government school children in using computers. They initiated this project first in Jharkhand and then took it to different states including Assam, Bihar, Meghalaya and finally, arrived two months ago in Karnataka. Now, I'm sure you're wondering what's so special about educating government school children about computers and technology. There are, after all, several such initiatives out there.
This initiative of educating people about computers is happening in five different states (Pic:Edimpact)
Abhilash Abraham, who is a Training Manager at Edimpact, explains, "The name Surya Kiran means rays of the Sun. In this project, we have created mobile computer labs which have solar panels installed on them. A small classroom-like environment with five laptops, which run on solar energy, has been installed in the van. We have around seven modified Maruti Eeco vans with a 1kVA inverter and battery powered by solar panels on the roof. A demo computer has been installed with Wi-Fi connectivity so that teachers can use it to teach children. We have also created a system to provide back-up power to these laptops in the absence of solar energy. In such cases, the laptops can be run for over seven hours."
Talking about the vans, which come equipped with a driver and a trainer, that go to different rural places and approach schools, Abhilash says, "Till now, the vans have covered over eight villages in Karnataka and four schools in Yadgir, educating children about computers. We explain about the different parts of a computer and their functions, we teach them how to write and share emails, do online transactions, write in a Word document, paint, about cyber security, the dos and don'ts of social media and so on. 90 per cent of the children in these areas do not even know about the uses of a computer let alone how to operate one. When we told them about our programme, they were so happy and enjoyed every bit of the class. And not just students, in most of the places, we have educated youngsters as well so that they can think about starting their own business using various platforms."