A Passion for Teaching
Providing learning opportunities in the most modern way, even in backward areas, is the aim of eVidyaloka
 
In 2011, Satish and Venkat, two employees of Microsoft, decided to do something about improving the quality of education in the Indian public school system. Their passion, to use technology to solve social challenges and empower the community as a whole, resulted in the setting up of eVidyaloka, a not-for-profit organisation. 
 
eVidyaloka focuses on working with local communities to own the digital classrooms, inspiring and empowering volunteers to contribute from wherever they are, by providing standardised lesson plans and teaching aids for a consistent learning experience for children. 
 
The eVidyaloka model brings people with passion together from across the globe, leveraging the power of technology, and enables access to high-quality teachers for children in remote villages of India. It is focused on children in the age group of 10-14 years (6th to 8th grade), delivering live interactive classes in the local medium, through a powerful partner ecosystem. eVidyaloka’s objective is to enable every child to understand and apply the concepts, by ensuring accessibility and affordability of high-quality teachers and teaching resources. It is a delivery model developed with a strong conviction in connecting people through technology which is scalable, replicable and sustainable.
 
The respective state board curriculum is being taught by the volunteer teachers, using rich digital media content like videos, visual flows, pictures, activities, etc. This helps the child to visualise and understand complex concepts. It also inspires the child to participate in the teaching-learning process with a higher level of involvement.
 
Today, 25 centres are operational on ‘My eVidyaloka’, across three states (Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu) through over 180 teachers. The teachers work across 76 cities in 13 countries delivering quality education in regional languages to over 1,200 children in India. An open content platform, WikiVidya, is being promoted, where volunteers build standardised lesson plans in vernacular languages and aggregate the digital resources and aids for a consistent learning experience for children. 
 
In the academic year 2015-16, eVidyaloka plans to establish a scalable, replicable and sustainable service delivery platform aimed at reaching 2,500 children across 50 villages in five states (adding Karnataka and Telangana). It hopes to have over 400 active volunteer teachers. WikiVidya has the potential to reach one million teachers in India. eVidyaloka’s long-term plan is to mobilise 100,000 volunteer teachers in the next 10 years with a potential to change the lives of 1.5 million children. The online classes happen in a digital classroom through a variety of communication technologies—wired broadband, WiMax, 3G mobile and smart routers. 
 
Over 70% of the volunteer teachers involved are qualified professionals in various fields, post-doctorates, home-makers, retired teachers, graduate students, PhD students and working professionals in India and abroad. One of the key challenges is availability of uninterrupted power supply; this has been addressed by providing a captive UPS unit for the digital classroom. Over the next two years, eVidyaloka’s ambition is to expand from the current reach of 50 villages to over 200 villages in seven to eight states and, eventually, cover the entire country. “What sustains us is the passion of the participating volunteers and what continues to inspire is the enthusiasm of the children to learn,” says Venkat. 
 
The NGO’s website provides detailed guidelines for volunteering or donating towards its activities. Do take a look.
 

eVidyaloka Trust

608, 27th Main, 2nd Stage,
BTM Layout, Bengaluru 
Karnataka 560076
Phone: +91 080 40903939

 

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

3 years ago

This is incredible. I salute the innovation and dedication of these individuals.
Every state has retirees who can add meaning to their life by volunteering just a few hours a day. If they own a computer, they need not even step outside the house to do this work.
I sincerely hope that this effort spreads to all states, particularly the poorest.

Improving Road Safety, Emergency Care
The need of the hour is to ensure effective help in accidents and legal protection for Good Samaritans
 
A few months ago, five-year-old Om Gaikwad and his parents, Aparna and Mangesh, cried for over an hour, pleading with bystanders for help, after being hit by a bus in Delhi. The entire family died because nobody helped them. This sickening state of affairs has to change. Improving road safety is important; but making help available quickly, in an emergency, is an absolute imperative. This is where the NGO SaveLIFE Foundation (SLF) comes in.
 
SLF is an innovative, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, focused on improving road safety and emergency care across India through high-impact and strategic interventions at the policy as well as grassroots level.
 
With support from organisations such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, World Bank, World Health Organisation, Global Road Safety Partnership, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Bharti Enterprises, Mahindra and Mahindra, and Religare Healthfore, SLF is creating high-impact solutions that help save hundreds of lives every year. To achieve its objectives, SLF operates in two broad areas: accident prevention and post-accident response. In both areas, SLF’s model includes policy advocacy, strategic public interest litigation and on-ground interventions.
 
Piyush Tewari, founder-president of SLF, lost his 17-year-old cousin, due to delayed response, after he met with a road accident. This tragic incident led him to realise the critical need for working towards this cause and he founded SaveLIFE Foundation in 2008. 
 
The NGO’s initiatives in accident prevention include: (a) Advocacy for a comprehensive national road safety law and lead agency at the Central and state levels for the required multi-sectoral coordination; (b) Litigating in the Supreme Court of India to address issues of death and injuries caused by trucks carrying protruding iron rods; (c) Expanding the anticipatory driving and accident prevention training (ADAPT) programme targeting high-risk commercial drivers. The programme is conducted over four hours and uses blended learning techniques to reinforce five-six key strategies for accident prevention. This is a travelling programme and can be conducted by SLF anywhere in the country.
 
SLF’s initiatives in post-accident response include: (a) Advocacy for a Good Samaritan Law for India, to enable bystanders to come forward and assist injured persons without fear of danger, harassment or intimidation; (b) Litigating in the Supreme Court to mandate a comprehensive nationwide framework for trauma-care for injured persons; (c) Training police personnel and citizen volunteers to become medical first-responders to road accident victims.
 
While setting up SaveLIFE Foundation, Mr Tewari found that while many people have the will and intention to help accident victims on the road, fear of legal hassles hold them back. “Our law failed to protect people who are called Good Samaritans—people who come forward to help an injured after an accident. This is the first big loophole that we discovered which was causing a lot of loss of lives that could otherwise have been saved,” says Mr Tewari.
 
Things are looking up as, on 12 May 2015, the Central government, after a Supreme Court order, issued guidelines to safeguard Good Samaritans. This was possible only after a PIL (public interest litigation) by SLF in 2014. 
 
Combining community volunteerism with healthcare, technology and law enforcement, SLF is creating a network of first-responders who can reach victims within minutes and start providing trauma care, before an ambulance or the police arrive. You can do your bit by volunteering with SLF or donating for the cause; if you are from the medical field, join SaveLIFE HealthCORPS to train police and community persons on basic life-saving skills.
 
SaveLIFE Foundation
A-223 Ansal Chambers-1,
Bhikaji Cama Place,
New Delhi – 110066
Tel 011-4109-1911
Mobile 09818168116

 

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Bringing Nomadic Communities into the Mainstream
VSSM gives identity, life-skills, rights, education, health facilities, housing and livelihood options to absorb nomads into the mainstream
 
The emergence of a modern and industrial society has rendered traditional occupations of nomadic tribes either obsolete or their survival is threatened. As a result, many tribals are finding it difficult to earn a decent income and adjust to the new reality. “The traditional way of life of these nomadic tribes is either dying, or is dead, already. How will they restart their lives in modern Gujarat?” asks Deepa Krishnan of Mumbai Magic.
 
Mittal Patel found the answer to this question in her own way, by attempting to bring the old Gujarat and modern Gujarat together. She has been working at the grassroots with the tribal communities since 2006. In 2010, Ms Patel started the Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch (VSSM), which means a support forum for nomadic communities with the aim of bringing them into the mainstream of society.
 
Ms Patel’s problems were manifold. Gaining basic recognition and empathy was also difficult in the beginning. “As far as the government is concerned, these tribals don’t exist,” says 
 
Ms Krishnan, a donor to VSSM. They are, often, not even on the electoral rolls. Their problems go back to the way they were treated under the colonial masters. They were branded ‘habitually criminal’ by the British under the Criminals Tribes Act of 1871; this is defined as ‘addicted to the systematic commission of offences’, such as thefts. Restrictions on their movements were imposed. Even today, not all tribal women have been rehabilitated from prostitution.
 
But Ms Patel, a gold medallist from Gujarat University’s department of journalism, is not pessimistic; she has no time to shed tears of sympathy. From helping the nomadic communities claim their land rights, to getting voter ID cards, to setting up a school for their children and fighting with bureaucrats to extend welfare benefits to them, she has a million tasks to accomplish that leave little room for pessimism.
 
With the help of the state government and some NGOs, Ms Patel organised a mass wedding in Banaskantha district (Gujarat) for women from the Saraniya community (a nomadic tribe). There have been several weddings in the affected districts—each time, to take the women out of prostitution. Recognising these marriages as a mass movement at grassroots level, Madhav Ramanuj—a renowned Gujarati poet and president of VSSM—said: “I feel these weddings are taking place in my own family.”
 
VSSM intervenes at multiple levels to create vocational options for these communities. It equips craftsmen to enhance their skills as well as introduces them to new vocations. A series of training workshops have been conducted for Nathwadee, Saraniya, Gadaliya, Bawa, Kangasiya, Salat and Meer communities. Those who complete their training have increased their earning power through the new skills they mastered.
 
VSSM is now forming district level forums for performing artiste to increase their bargaining power and provide equal platforms to all the performing artiste groups of Gujarat. It also helps them to buy new and modern musical instruments, make-up kits, costumes, etc.
 
Ms Krishnan summarises Ms Patel’s efforts thus: “Mittal has started tent-schools for nomadic children, conducted group marriages to help reduce the burden of wedding expenses on nomadic families, rescued nomadic girls from prostitution and taken on many other social issues.” In some cases, she has even added some families to the electoral rolls with government help. Imagine a man who was a ‘habitual criminal’ as a British subject being able to vote in the Republic of India! Donations to VSSM are tax-exempt under Section 80-G of the Income-tax Act.
 
Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch
Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch,
‘Harikutir’, Sadvichar Parivar Campus,
Satellite Road, Ramdevnagar,
Ahmedabad - 380 015 Gujarat.
Phone: (079) 2686 0378/79
Mobile: 09099936019
Website: http://www.vssmindia.org/
Blog: www.nomadictribes.blogspot.com

 

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