Squished tightly in between a sofa cushion of bad news and politics, is a story, that went on for years and has been written by several individuals, for one specific goal. A story that is reflective of the strength a society, a resolve that communities can produce when they work towards a specific purpose—and its heartwarming to see that amidst the sea of poorly made governmental decisions and uncalled political rashness, was a benevolent and progressive crowd-funded project.
As of May 2017, around 47,000 (out of the 65,000) government primary schools in the state of Maharashtra have been digitally equipped, purely through crowd-sourced initiatives, according to a report by NDTV. Such digitisation could better enable a student’s overall learning experience and subject exposure. Coming from families that are predominantly employed in agriculture where technology is more or less a foreign concept, these children are now being educated in digital educational environments. The use of a digital medium makes classroom learning far more interesting for these children and it also exposes them to the digitally ingrained world we live in.
The most recent of these instances, is a public primary school in Vadgaon Gund, that has been transformed over the past year, exclusively through crowd-funded resources. Today, its students learn from solar-charged tablets and interactive projectors, which are now progressively replacing notebooks and blackboards. The school collected around three lakhs, from which they were additionally able to purchase an Xbox, containing an interactive syllabus.
The movement started seven years ago, when one teacher decided that it was time public school environments got the re-vamp they needed. Sandeep Gund introduced digital methods of learning in 2009, in a school in Thane; a model which soon became successful enough to encourage teachers from other government schools to do the same. Teachers and benefactors from across the state started volunteering to provide funds for equipment and smart solutions for innovative uses for the resources. “We have accepted anything from Rs. 500 to Rs. 3 lakh as donations. Depending on the funds received, we come up with ways to digitise the schools,” said Mr Gund to NDTV.
A Marathi-medium school in a village in the Jalgaon district now has a LCD projector, WiFi across every classroom and laptops. “When we reached out to people and sought help to improve the school, the villagers donated about ₹5.5 lakh. As of today, at least 10 students have left private schools to join our school. Our total number of students has gone up from 42 to 78,” said Mr. Suresh Patil, the headmaster of the school, in a report by the The Indian Express.
In another instance that happened last year, an investment banker named Harshal Vibhandik helped make Dhule the first district in the state to entirely have government schools with completely digital classrooms. “I had ₹ 9 lakh with me and after visiting a few schools, I decided to digitise nine of them. But then, villagers wanted to pitch in too and that is when the funding idea came to me, with villagers raising the majority of the money,” said Harsha to The Better India.
With more government schools obtaining resources that are available in most urban private schools, it is safe to say that this has truly unfolded into a becoming one of this year’s most benevolent and humanitarian peoples movement for an equal and effective educational system.