Published: 16th August 2020
How ThinkSharp's idea of providing tablets to rural kids is stopping them from becoming dropouts
Santosh Phad, Founder of ThinkSharp Foundation, speaks about the organisation's initiative to provide tablets to children so that they can continue to access education online instead of dropping out
When Santosh Phad was pursuing his postgraduation in Mumbai, he noticed a huge difference between kids from the rural and urban settings in terms of knowledge, access to various study materials, spoken English and so on. Pained by this, he decided to start a social organisation called ThinkSharp Foundation so that he could bridge the gap between rural and urban students by providing all kinds of facilities to the children from rural areas. It included teaching English, providing computers and other tools of technology, so that they are equally competitive when applying for a job or a seat in some of India's prestigious institutions. Fast forward to 2020, when the Corona pandemic has taken control of everything, ThinkSharp has been crowdfunding in order to provide tablets to school children, so that they don't miss out on online classes and fall behind.
Santosh, who has worked in several finance corporations across India, says, "We had to make sure that these children's academic year didn't go waste. Being in lockdown for nearly five months, there were possibilities that these children would either drop out of school or get into jobs that generate some income for their family. The infrastructure and technology that we provided the schools are not being used anymore as the schools have had to shut down. Therefore, we thought of bringing this infrastructure home through tablets. Hence, this initiative is called Home Schooling or Ghar Ghar Pathshala. Meanwhile, we found that only 20 to 25 per cent of kids have access to the internet or gadgets in the 51 schools that we work with. Thus, tablets became an advantage for these kids as they could now access classes and the curriculum. We have provided these tablets in rural areas of Marathwada, Aurangabad and a few other districts in Maharashtra."
So, what can they do with these tablets? ThinkSharp Foundation's tablets come with 4G internet connectivity with the academic syllabus, a digital library that has over 1,200 books, applications like Zoom through which students can attend online classes, make a video call and so on, whenever necessary. "We started this initiative by crowdfunding and several people who have come across our work have contributed towards the Rs 3.5 lakh we raised using which we were able to buy at least 20 tablets and provide them to the kids. Now, we have taken to Milaap, an online fundraising platform, to raise some more funds and reach more children. So far, we have been able to raise more than Rs 5 lakh but our total project cost itself is Rs 13,70,000. This money will be used to provide tablets to 70 more students, so that the system of online education continues," Santosh concludes.