A visit to Bankura...opening of a new vista in my Life

by Prantika Ghosh

25th December, 2016.

Then came December. Time for us to go to the village and meet all the kids, Monotosh, in person. It was great two days we spent (you must have seen my earlier posts).

As we were about to board the jeep and bid goodbye, Monotosh came running from nowhere, hugged me tight and started crying, "I will not let you go".

PS: Monotosh wants to become a Computer Engineer when he grows up and help poor kids in villages with their education. He is in 5th Grade now..

When Marshall got introduced to Vincent Van Gogh

by Rajib Das Sharma

25th January 2017.

Education for Every Child. No Child Left Behind.

Our Program at Rotary Sadan, Kolkata

by Rajib Das Sharma

19th February, 2017

​Teaching kids in remote villages, using Internet and Cloud Computing

by Rajib Das Sharma

​15th December 2016


We were having breakfast together. BabunathDa, RasamayDa and me—at the Shushunia Mor (as the junction of roads is called in Bengali). Small place, very different from the posh restaurants of the city. But the warmth of the people around, the gentle cold breeze on a winter morning and the touch of the golden sunshine made the morning more pleasant than ever. The taste of the hot puri & vegetable curry was out of this world. Just the day before, we had finished the tour of the villages, interacting with the children, seeing the unthinkable condition in which they live and study. Still they had sung beautiful Santhali songs and danced to Santhali music to greet us. The memories of those bright smiles were still reverberating in the mind.

‘At our place we have a big problem. Government is making it mandatory for the children to learn English. But our children do not have any exposure to English. They are first-generation schoolgoers. We don’t even have good teachers. We don’t know how they will learn English.’ BabunathDa said looking at me. Even the sunshine could not cover up his worried look.

We finished breakfast and continued our interaction with the children. Our trip came to an end as we boarded the train to Howrah.

I came back to Bangalore. My usual busy life creating technology solutions resumed.

But BabunathDa’s words kept coming back to my mind. How can we solve this problem of teaching English? Can we help pay decent salaries to the local teachers? But how much will the local teachers be able to teach with limited resources? In the city, we have access to books, videos, TV, billboards, shops. We are constantly exposed to English. We pick up the language naturally. But what about these kids in the remotest of villages where the only exposure for them is a one-hour class at school and the West Bengal Board textbooks?

How do we solve this? What is the way? Sitting at the second Silicon Valley of the World, the problems of one the remotest villages of our country kept haunting me.

And then one day it struck.

What if we give them a computer and, through Google Chat, we teach them no matter where we are?

In our next trip, we carried a laptop, a projector and tested the idea. At the first site, we didn’t get a working signal. So, we traveled 20 kms on a bike and came to another site. Finally, we got the signal. There it was. The teacher from Bangalore was on the screen. Interacting with the children sitting on the floor of a dark room with walls made of leaves and a roof made of thin tiles.

Technology had given us the reach.

And for one year, throughout 2016, we continued our passionate journey to teach.

In the process, we also used the Cloud. To create audio books in English that the kids would download and use to develop their pronunciation and an ear for the language.

That’s the story of our English teaching, reaching one of the farthest corners of the country, using the Internet & Cloud Computing.

It was a new enlightenment, I would say. What took me by surprise was the steady transformation that was taking place in this remote village in Bankura. Education through internet and cloud computing has done wonders here. What I realized that anyone who has a zeal to create some impact can do it by sitting in his/her home in front of a computer and educate every individual they wish to from every corner of the world.
The amazing kids here has the enthusiasm to learn. They also dream to contribute back to the small village in which they are growing up. And behind all this is the joint contribution of an amazing team of Educate One Kid and Dharamdas Tudu, Rashamay Hansda, Paritosh Soren, Karthik and other teachers, Social Wokers and elderly persons along with Babunath Da and Boudi (Lokhkhi Tudu).
"Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world.” These are the wise words of Nelson Mandela. I had a glimpse of this change happening there.
Herb Caen, a San Francisco journalist once said, “A city is not gauged by its length and width, but by the broadness of its vision and the height of its dreams.” Yes, this small village has a vision. The seeds of dreaming big has already been sown. Someday somehow it will be a city, I hope. That day it will surely speak about the great initiative that was started here in Bankura. Luckily I am a part of it.


Marshall Tudu - another gifted Rockstar Student. He is in 5th Grade now.You can see his painting (he never forgets to put his signature).
On 21st January 2017 we started our Drawing Class over the Internet. Our drawing teacher Suman Sengupta is in New Delhi while the students are in one remote village in West Bengal. Suman had a portrait of Vincent Van Gogh behind him that he is working on. So after the class, when he asked the kids "Do you have any question for me?", Marshall's prompt question was "Who is that man behind you?" And thus, on the first day of their Drawing Class, they got to know a bit about Vincent. I am sure one day he is going to travel all the way to Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and experience the work of the Master himself. He surely will.

All these days these kids were painting without any help, powered only by their imagination, surrounded by Nature (Vincent would have loved it). Now they have an accomplished drawing teacher to train them. We just cant wait for the spectacular results.

PS: Marshall will be there too at our February 19th Program. Feel free to be there, interact with him and get his autograph. In Santhali Alchiki language, Marshall means 'Light'. 21st January is also Suman's Birthday and he later mentioned that this class was his best birthday gift, ever.

​​EDUCATE ONE KID

I went to Teach. I came back Inspired.

by Smita Abraham

11th December, 2016.

The Young Monks of Bankura

by Biswajit Biswas

10th February, 2018

8 February 2016

‘You’ve always said you wanted to be part of this. Are you still interested?’

‘Absolutely!’ (Finally!)


14 February 2016

‘We’ll have a team discussion . . . conference call . . . dial in details . . . pass code . . . on the bridge . . .’
‘Umm . . . okay.’ (What language is this? This will be harder than I thought!)


24 February 2016

‘Targets for 2016: Who will own which task? Create a teaching plan. How do we organize and share files? Too heavy for e-mail. Should we use personal e-mails? How can we communicate the same files with our Bankura friends? Needs to be something we can all access . . .’
‘Dropbox!’ (Brilliant!)
‘Files uploaded.’ (How are we ever going to pull this off?)


12 March 2016

‘They now have the set up . . . but first we have to test the technology . . . teaching plan . . . audio books—who’ll make them? . . . select videos . . . how to teach grammar? more plans! . . . implementation has to be foolproof . . . we are giving them hope . . . must see it through . . . to perfection . . .’
‘Sure, of course!’ (We are giving them HOPE! How are we ever going to pull this off?)


3 April 2016

Session One. BabunathDa (Tudu), RasamayDa (Hansda). Selected students from classes 4 to 11. Our team. Introductions. A test run.

10 April 2016

‘Finally we have started taking English classes using Google Chat. Teachers are in Bangalore and Kolkata; students in Bankura.’
(This is amazing! This extraordinary bunch of Santhal kids will teach us more than we can ever teach them.)


From 10 April to 10 December. Our Sunday mornings have been so much brighter because of these amazing boys and girls. There have been all kinds of impediments—poor internet connection, power cut, bad weather, school exams for students, work and home pressures for teachers, ill health, long distance, even communication problems arising between teachers and students who don’t always have a common language to explain things and too much geography distancing them from one another—but, most of the teachers and almost all of the students have not missed a single Sunday in these eight months. We have come to know their strengths, weaknesses, dreams, fears; we now recognize the witty and the mischievous, the confident ones and the quiet ones. And all of them have indeed taught us more than we have them.  

So now, almost at the end of this fascinating year, a mere four days away from meeting our wonderful kids, we are eagerly looking forward to the years to come, planning for them, hoping.

Funny. We thought we had given them hope. Really, they gave it to us. 

Was it all worth it?
Those who have seen their big, winner smiles greet us week after week know—Every last fraction of every second!

Growing up in small village in Rishra, I know the importance of Education in every step of my life. Currently our society is suffering through lot of issues, but I believe all these we can overcome through EDUCATION, from poverty to child labour, from population to economic growth, employment, because education is more than just reading and writing.

When I joined this team, we provide educational stuffs to our Bankura friends, but we knew that our vision is more than this. We discussed with each other and with the Bankura friends about their problem in education. They don’t have proper English and Science teachers for their children but want to improve in those subjects.
We found our first step to our vision!
We started thinking about how technology can overcome this barrier, as our language is different, our geographical location is different, but the language of humanity is common, internet removed the geographical distance every Sunday morning. We worked on the English reading, writing, text, grammar till now. It started on last January and we covered almost one year and the rest is history.
We used conference call.
We used drop box.
We used Google hangout.
We used audio books.
We used video capsules from YouTube.
And many more to come.
As a result of this year our Bankura children did well in English exam and as a feedback they want to do well in Science and Mathematics. So it’s just a beginning!.

The experience of visiting the impoverished children in Bankura, on a chilly Saturday morning in December, had opened up a new vista in my life.The luscious green meadow surrounded by the serene Sushunia hills was like an oasis in the dreary desert,to one who had been long in city pent.The children may be impecunious, deprived of the basic amenities of life, but I was amazed to see their vitality their creativeness, their tremendous zeal to learn and their diligence. At such a remote place how easily they are adjusting themselves to a new world of technology. We are thankful to them for accepting us so warmly and giving us an opportunity to be by their side.It is pertinent to mention about the tremendous amount of hospitality of Babunathda and Boudi and the other people around.


These amazing kids are dreamers.If more people come forward and extend a helping hand I am sure the dreams of these wonderful kids will cone true.

My 'Taare Zameen Par' (Star On The Land) moment with Monotosh

by Rajib Das Sharma

8th January 2017.

Using Technology & Innovation at the grassroots to improve Education

by Monojit Barua & Rajib Das Sharma

24th December, 2016.

We started taking English classes over the Internet for the kids in February 2016, every Sunday morning, without fail. While we, the teachers, logged in from Kolkata and Bangalore, there were these super enthusiastic kids appearing on the screen from a remote village of West Bengal. They would wake up on a Sunday morning, braving heat or cold or rain, eat puffed rice (muri) for breakfast and start learning.

And among them was Monotosh.

A sharp bright kid who picks up concepts just like that, puts in great effort and hard work and has leadership skills with which he will make all of us proud one day. But initially he lacked confidence.


The English classes and lessons and more importantly the interactions continued throughout the year. We saw him growing in confidence. This impacted his learning and he started shining brighter every Sunday morning.
.

Our first program like this in the city - Talking about our work and Interaction between our Students and our Kolkata friends. One of the best compliments came from Tushar Kanjilal "After a very long time I have attended such a beautiful program. People who usually talk were listening and people who usually listen were talking. And there was no Shabhapoti"  😀

Here is how the day unfolded:

Inaugural Song 'Anondodhara Bohichhey Bhubaney' by Prantika Ghosh
Philosophy and Goals of Educate One Kid - Rajib Das Sharma
How our work started in the villages - Rasamay Hansda
How are we using Technology - Monojit Barua
How far we have come - Babunath Tudu
Performance by Students - Smita Abraham
Closing Song 'Eki Labonye Purno Prano' by Prantika Ghosh
Lunch and knowing each other


This is what 10 year old Marshall, from one of the remotest villages and one of our Rockstar students (in 5th Grade), recited in the Program. Without a blink, without getting nervous, enthralling the audience. His confident voice and clear words are still reverberating in my ears and mind. The white bearded old man would have been proud.

"Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
by narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
into the dreary desert sand of dead habit,
Where the mind is led forward by thee
into ever-widening thought and action,
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, 
Let my country awake"