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SRM Alumnus Educates Children in Rural Rajasthan


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SRM Alumnus Educates Children in Rural Rajasthan
As the sun sets in Patan village, in Ajmer district in Rajasthan, weary children make their way through the muddy pathway in the dark to attend night school. Tired after a day's hard labour in the fields, these children stare at the dark blackboard, which hardly makes any impact in educating them. The night school, which begins at 6 p.m. and ends by 9 p.m, had become a punishment for these poor children who help their parents in the fields the whole day in the scorching summer heat. Gradually, they started leaving this informal school. However the bad times did not last long.

Soon, their school turned into a lively and bustling place, bringing out the best in them. Today, instead of old and torn notebooks, they carry the latest iPads, which have transformed their outlook and approach towards education. This has been possible thanks to the relentless efforts of two young engineers - Kirubhagar and Harsh Tiwari who took up SBI's Youth for India fellowship to bring about a change in the neglected education space in rural India.

Kirubhagar whose name means 'blessing' has lived up to it - he is indeed a blessing for many children.After completing mechanical engineering from SRM University, Kirubhagar turned down offers from multinational companies (MNCs) and went against his parents' wishes, in his pursuit for solving 'real life' problems.

Harsh Tiwari, an electrical engineer from Birla Institute of Technology, quit a well-paying job at IFB Industries to work in remote villages of India and develop low-cost solutions to tide over the power crisis and educate children. Today, for children like 10-year-old, Ramji belonging to the poor Bagaria and Bhil community, Kirubhagar and Harsh are role models. These two engineers with the help of the NGO, Barefoot College, have transformed the way children learn and get information by setting up digital night classes. In the dimly lit corner of a classroom in Guwadi village which has no electricity, Ramji is busy flipping pages on his iPad. As his parents look at him and the 'wonder' device, Ramji explains the subjects he learnt with ease to his uneducated parents.

He tells his parents about the importance of agriculture, the best farming methods and ways to take care of their cattle too. As subjects they learn are related to their life, it makes learning useful and productive. "In such informal schools where you have children from the age of 5-15 years, the traditional 'chalk and board' method had no impact. I realised that we had to devise a cost-effective, user-friendly solar powered projector to make teaching an enriching experience", says Kirubhagar. The conventional projectors available in the market were power guzzlers and thus not cost-effective. Kirubhagar spent over 4 months to innovate and build the prototype of a solar powered projector, which could work seamlessly in any remote village.