Published: 23rd March 2020
Efundu is trying to make learning and reading fun for school children with comics. Here's how
Vijay Srinivas Prativadi, Founder, Efundu speaks about what went into converting school textbooks into comics and taking them to different schools. Their app can be also downloaded on Android phones
Who doesn't love comics? Now, imagine if the lessons you learnt in your textbooks were presented to you in the form of comics. Wouldn't you love picking it up again and again and engaging in it? That's why Efundu, creators of India's first syllabus-based cartoon textbooks, has designed a few subjects and its chapters in the form of comics so that any child can read and understand it easily. Vijay Srinivas Prativadi, who founded Efundu in 2015, says, "Though I come from an advertisement background, I have always wanted to contribute to the education sector. When we conducted a survey in various schools and across syllabi to understand learning methodologies, we found that textbooks were pretty dull and boring, which is why we thought about introducing some creativity in the syllabus through comics."
Vijay believes that education or learning must be fun - thus the name of his company 'Efundu'. He explains, "We purchased an Environmental Science textbook of class V and converted six chapters into comics. Within a few months, we were ready with its copies which we distributed in more than 1,000 schools to see if children could read and understand it by themselves. But we soon realised that the reading levels were low as students required assistance to read and needed an explanation for everything, even when the book was in the form of a comic. Another challenge was that they wanted the comic to be in their regional language, that is, Kannada. So, we went back to the drawing board and republished the book in Kannada and English. This time, it really helped both the teachers and the children."
Cartoons from their comic books
After earning several positive responses, Vijay and his team converted 11 chapters into comics instead of continuing with the initial six chapters they had converted the first time around. In 2017, they published the same comic textbook in Hindi and experimented with it in New Delhi, Mumbai and a few other cities. "By now, we had approached thousands of schools but we faced another challenge. The teachers and school officials would ask us which syllabus the comic book fell under. We had converted the NCERT Environmental Science textbook, but there are different syllabi across different states. Therefore, we requested them to continue using textbooks prescribed by their State syllabus and treat our books as an add on so that classes become more interesting and fun. The speciality of our 28-page book is that we not only use the content of chapters, we also touch upon one or two current affairs topics. For instance, if there is a chapter on space, we include the word 'gravity' and explain its meaning as they are already taught the concept of 'force'."
In 2018, Efundu approached Shalini Rajneesh, Principal Secretary, Primary and Secondary Education, Government of Karnataka, who approved the comic textbook and sent it to the Department of State Educational Research and Training (DSERT) for review which took three months. Then, they approached the officials of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for another approval and received permission to provide this book to over 200 government schools. Vijay says, "Since the present generation is surrounded by gadgets, we decided to launch the Efundu app in the end of 2018. Currently, we have six chapters on our app. Apart from this, we work with several NGOs in the realm of child safety, wearing a helmet while riding a bike and so on. We have also uploaded these comics on our app so that anyone can access it for free."
Going forward, the Efundu team is gearing up to bring out comic books on Environmental Science for class IV and Value Education books for classes I and II which they are looking forward to release this June. "As we want to print new books, we are looking for funds from individuals and private organisations so that we can do more for children, irrespective of whether they go to private or government schools," he concludes.