Samajwadi Party leader Ghanshyam Tiwari has launched a new not-for-profit called DigitalBharti.org that focuses on the education sector - specifically, on how to use freely available digital tools to help Indian high-school students learn and succeed.
As per Ghanshyam, there are 12 crore Indians currently in the age group 14-18. Only 7 crore of them are in school, of which the number of girl students is a mere 2 crore. This means that about 4 crore girl children aren't even in school.
"These girls never get an opportunity to discover their identity", says Ghanshyam, adding, "They're married off with poor education".
"High Schools aren't helping students succeed, in passing exams or acquiring knowledge." We face a hijack in educational agenda because dominant western thought dictates that learning is about learning outcomes. In India, education is a social goal as much as a knowledge goal."
"Technology is a transformer and offers a scalable solution", he says, adding that "the goal is to make High School education free for every student in the country."
The Internet allows the propagation of videos - free videos to in local languages to every child. Chat services like WhatsApp allow for doubt clearing.
Usage and benefits:
We've seen students across 400 small towns using this already and there are over 22,000 people on Youtube", says Ghanshyam. He adds that "It also allows girl children to succeed, even if they're not allowed freedoms such as being able to go to a friend's place to study or the chance to attend tuitions."
How DigitalBharti can be supported:
There are three stakeholders who can help, says Ghanshyam:
The access problem:
"Mobile is the greatest tool", says Ghanshyam. "When students find out that there's something that interests them, they'll solve the access problem themselves. And such videos can also be distributed on physical media such as SD cards.". As mentioned above, however, he does admit that help is needed in this regard.
Takeaways for parents:
"Parents can explore how these tools are making education freely available. I hope parents also look at these videos and reconnect with their child. It'll also lead to a better bonding between parent and teenage child."
And specifically in the case of girl students:
"Such mechanisms should push parents to back girl children the same way they back male children."
Whose need can it serve at this very moment:
Students who are writing board exams right now can use these videos to help them in their efforts.