How many of us are actually contented today? Contented with the way life is moving on? Very few! How many of us complain at every step of life, from the morning tea and the newspaper right on time to the existing political system? Many! Many of us sail in the same boat when it comes to complaining. We whine all day starting from petty issues like the weather, low-speed broadband connection, buffering YouTube videos, a catch missed by a cricketer on the field to some serious issues like poverty, pollution, population, corruption, bad roads, faulty education system, wrong policies adopted by the government, and there is no end to it. It’s a part of inherent human nature to have endless wants, demands and complaints. We have been doing this for a while now; sitting in the drawing room in front of our LEDs, flipping channels and continuing to comment and complain. We have been silencing the conscience surreptitiously, who constantly asks to show concern not by questioning but by taking the responsibility, with the age old lie, ‘what do I have in my hands except the TV remote?’ It’s over. The time to escape with this blatant lie is over. We have more than just the remote in our hands. We have the onus.
One such extremely concerned person to realize this, who left for a foreign land 25 years ago, but never took her heart away, who continues to belong to her own soil happens to be Mrs. Rachna Rustagi. While in the US, she has always been worried about the conditions prevailing in India and has always wished to do something. Many things disturbed her. And one such problem was of primary education. Just in time she meets Mrs. Suchitra Pattnaik who runs a non-profit organization named Tekons Education, to empower children with education. And as we say when one wishes and tries very hard with all the honesty, to achieve something, the entire universe starts working on the endeavour and helps it transpire. There’s a Paulo Coelho version of it as well: “And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” Suchitra knew about Shikhya and showed Rachna its doors.
She proposed to Rachna with the idea of opening an e-learning centre that could help educate the under-privileged children subjects like mathematics and science. Rachna without wasting time signed a $500 cheque and handed it over to Suchitra. And unbelievably in a span of just 7 days, with the necessary aid provided by the Team Shikhya, an e-learning centre was made to run at a remote village of Sarapari near Khorda district in Odisha. A local edu-preneur runs the project there, with adequate provisions facilitated by Shikhya. Suchitra channelized the sum of money by purchasing 5 tablets costing Rs 20,000 and a Shikhya set up box containing study materials from 1st to 10th grade, costing Rs 12000. Since it’s an after school programme the remaining hours of the day are divided into three time slots each of two hours duration: 6am – 8am, 5pm-7pm and 7pm-9pm. These time slots are called ‘tablet times’. As per the number of tablets, at a time 5 students are able to utilize the tablet time for practicing the study materials. This way, 15 students get 2 hours of tablet time each day. And students are allotted alternate days in a week in rotation, which is how every child gets 2 slots or 4 hours of tablet time in a week. And following this cycle 45 students can be provided with the resources in a week, each getting a practice session of 4 hours per week.
And doing a little maths leads us to the following results:
For 45 children:
|DURATION||TABLET TIME (in hrs)|
And all these hours of tablet time in a year just by a one-time contribution by an individual! It comes out to be Rs 3.703/hr ~ Rs 4/hr of mathematics practice for an under privileged child by a single person’s one-time contribution. The cost is indeed quite minimal but can create a very deep impact in shaping a child’s career; a child who has been longing for education but has been deprived of by destiny.
Rachna, Suchitra and Shikhya. 3 names. 7 days. A not very huge amount. But huge impact on 45 lives! This is a mere instance of how can a thought, a wish and a simple idea be transformed to create a miracle in deprived yet highly aspiring people’s lives! Any single soul sitting in a corner, across the globe, not knowing the faces of kids still being able to affect and transform their lives is no less than a magic. It needs no magical spell or a wand, just an honest wish, a drive and a way. The honest wish here was of Madam Rachna, the drive or connecting thread was Madam Suchitra and the way was Shikhya. So the next time you find someone (even if it’s you) expressing concern or complaining about the predicament that unfortunate children are facing in the field of education, show them the way, and help them answer the question to “what have you done to bring a change?”
Here are some pictures from the learning center.