Winter fog in northern parts of India can be both menacing and mesmerising. Thankfully on the day I decided to head out to meet Nikhil early in the morning, the fog soon gave way to a bright warm sunshine.
The boy in the picture above is Nikhil. He studies in Class VIII in Government Primary School, Seelampur located in Greater Noida, UP. Ever since, our iDream Education team has been working in his school towards setting up a TABLAB (an educational tablet for government school), they have been pestering me to come and meet Nikhil. He is the wonder boy they say.
Quite intrigued, I set out from my Gurgaon home in the wee hours of a January morning, braving the cold to see the magic unfold in front of my eyes.
Over the past few years that I have been working with government schools, I usually enter a new one with least expectations. Although I genuinely hope the scenario changes in the coming years but for now things are as they are or as they have been since past few decades.
The first thing I noticed as I was entering the school were the eager eyes of some kids wondering who is this new person visiting their school.
As I made my way in, I could see that the school has many rooms, but most of them in such dilapidated condition that you wouldn’t want to hold any classes there. When it came to TABLAB, a tiny room on the right corner of the school was allocated. And it was small enough to not even accommodate 20 students at the same time. So while the lab was set up inside the room, the TABLAB session were happening in an open space just outside the room.
Read how we setup TABLAB.
I saw many students excitedly walking into the TABLAB room, taking out their tablets and finding a comfortable space to get to the business. It had been two weeks since their training had happened and so children had become very comfortable in handling the device and using the learning content. The fact that the entire content was in Hindi language further helped them to adopt it easily.
Some kids like the one’s you see in the picture above were super excited to hold the device in their hands and it was heartening to see such a sight. If we can excite kids to proactively learn, I believe that is like half the battle won. The improvement in learning outcomes will eventually follow up.
Anyhow, I finally got the chance to meet Nikhil. As I walked towards him, I observed that he was holding a small toy in his hand. It was like a rotating fan powered by a small battery. We greeted each other and then I asked him what was it that he was holding. What he told me next gave me goose bumps. If this is the kind of transformational impact TABLAB can have in such short time, we need to work even harder to ensure such a learning device reaches every last mile learner in our country.
Nikhil had self-taught himself using do-it-yourself activity videos on his tablet to make a working model of a fan run by a motor. He told me that he found the video so interesting and easy to do, that he now wants to make more such models. And all the material he has used was waste or unused material lying in his home or school. We captured a small video of Nikhil sharing his experience:
Till just two weeks back Nikhil was stuck in his mundane school curriculum with no idea that he could have interest in experiment based practical learning. And now he has not only become comfortable with the touch based device but has found so much interest and joy that he self taught himself to make what you saw in the video.
TABLAB has opened up his world to limitless possibilities. Till a few days back, he himself never knew his orientation to practical science, but today I saw him and and knew that a future scientist was born in rural India. His is an amazing story of the kind of transformational impact TABLAB can have on how students can learn in our government schools.
As we were leaving the school, many more students joined Nikhil along with their tablets to bid us goodbye.
I would immensely thank my ground team who are day in and night out working with such kids in multiple schools across the country to ensure easy adoption, regular and hassle free usage and fun based learning.
That day, I left the school with a lot positivity and a promise to take the idea of student centric digital learning through tablets to more schools around the country.
PS: The above article has been published as a personal account story experienced by our co-founder Rohit during his visit to a TABLAB school located in Greater Noida. To know more about TABLAB, request you to please click here.