These were our initial days in Jamui. We were perturbed with the situation of education in Jamui, specially the remote and difficult areas and were moving with computer education, slowly and unsure about where it would take us. The above interaction with Reeta strengthened our idea of technology making learning fun and engaging.
Have penned down our first meeting with children at RBC Bela, Jamui, Bihar.
.................................None of them raised hands.
On that sweaty-shiny June, Shravan had asked the 100 odd girls from the deep tribal villages of District Jamui in Bihar a rather odd question. "How many of you have ever seen a computer"?
Rajneesh Ji, the Chief Caretaker for the Residential Bridge Course Centre at Bela smiled at us, half suspiciously and half mockingly (as if we were another set of aliens to get the photos clicked and prepare reports) and gave us the reality. "Most of them haven't seen even a radio, Sir".
Both of us didn't have a plan on how we would move ahead with such a group. These were a group of girls brought to the centre from the far-off villages situated in the hills bordering Jharkhand. Almost all of them were from the so called Naxal-influence zone, typically out of reach for government and its programs. They were learning to come to terms with Hindi from Santhali, their native language.
We switched on the laptop we were carrying and played Ice Age, the animation movie. The speakers were feeble and the language was alien (English with American accent and movie tones). However, the children related to the characters and within a while we were hearing out Santhali equivalents of Ice Age animals.
We paused the movie in the middle and asked, "do you want to see these movies?". The reply was as expected.
"Then you should learn computers", we tried to sell.
From that very day, these girls have kept surprising us with the learning potential they have. We are trying to fast-track their shift to formal schools, in a class commensurate to their age. And they are moving faster than their expectations.
See the video. For your information, Reeta and her friend is less than 5 months into education. So she has picked up letters, numbers and operations upon them, in these 5 months.
This proves our conviction that technology can help education in very creative and effective ways, especially in far off areas where you can find teachers.
We aspire to spread this leg of I-Saksham into every such learning centre in Jamui, with or without government help.