Gyanada Electronics Boot Camp in Ranchi

January 31, 2016

Update: We are fundraising for the next year’s activities! We really loved doing this electronics camp, contribute to our Milaap campaign so that we can do the same thing in Kolkata this year.

There are many wonderful things about returning to Ranchi, Jharkhand! From the cool temperatures, to the wondrous food, and getting to spend some time in the hometown of legendary Cricketer, Dhoni, how could we not fall in love?

Despite the decades that have passed since the Naxal insurgency and the struggle for revolution that plagued that time period, the Naxal imprint is not just history, it’s something that lives on. Some of the girls we work with live in Naxal territory just outside of the city, while others live in Jagannathpur, a messy sprawl of an urban “slum” not far from the Jagannath Temple. In Ranchi we learned a few things from our conversations with parents, children and their field workers, namely that our kids don’t get to spend a lot of time with computers. One of our biggest worries is that the children aren’t learning technology and as a result they’ll miss out on opportunities. Our children don’t even have basic computer skills which are becoming essential in seeking opportunities in the future. Our children are just as smart and talented as their counterparts in Dehli and Mumbai even though they’re not always afforded the same opportunities. We don’t think technology is the only way to solve the world’s problems, but we do believe technology can play some role.

With the help of our volunteers from Singapore we set forth to launch our very first Electronics Boot Camp. We hoped to inspire girls to see the value of technology in our world and in their everyday lives. For many of our children electricity had little to no relevance. Without even having lights in their homes, how do we expect them to want to learn how to connect a circuit? Light is important. Just as important as science, computers, technology, experimentation, and wild failures and wondrous learning through curiosity and action.

The goal for our Electronics Boot Camp was to give our kids in Ranchi a new kind of challenge! We didn’t want them to simply just learn or memorize information about electricity, we wanted to facilitate a hands on approach that would allow them to work together to build something fun and really figure out what electricity is all about. We hosted the workshop in two locations, one being an urban setting and one being a rural setting. While the kids involved had varying levels of skill and interest in the topic, they all had one thing in common: they were all extremely engaged in trying, learning and most importantly learning by trying.

Their objective was to make an LED light come on, and to take things one step further and also figure out how to make a sound buzzer go off. Our objective was to facilitate inclusivity, encourage diversity, and remind our children that kids rule the world. To foster inclusivity, we opened our Electronics Boot Camp to both boys and girls. We encouraged the girls to still take charge and approach the tasks with an “I can do this!” attitude. We embraced diversity by bringing together kids of different ages, skill levels and interests and pairing them with an experienced educator that embraced student centered learning. We reminded kids that they are the true leaders of world by taking a backseat to their understanding, innovation and collaboration. We encouraged children to take the lead from the very start, to make their own rules, and to be candid about what worked and what didn’t. It was a wonderful thing to see children that live in such a hierarchical society and that come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds be leaders. We know from our work in the field that providing children with the opportunity and space to practice leadership is much more important than any economic or academic indicator; and a necessary step in grooming successful, well-adjusted scholars.


Moving Forward

We learned a lot from our first Electronics Boot Camp and are excited to make a few tweaks to make the workshop even better the next time around. For starters we’d like to host the Electronics Boot Camp during each vacation. Another future goal is to set forth a project that’s engaging to children of different skills and abilities, we want to challenge our advanced children but also want less skilled children to learn the concepts and actively participate as well. We want to continue encouraging our young girls to take charge, to feed their curiosity and continue to excel along their male counterparts. Other ideas include catering to more advanced students by linking vocational training or higher education opportunities and teaching public speaking and presentation skills.

Do you have a passion for teaching electronics? We have events in different cities in India from time to time, just sign up here as a volunteer to learn more.

Preparing For Our Trip!

December 21, 2015

This December we are excited to be traveling back to India and visiting Kolkata, Ranchi, Mumbai and Chennai! From the very start of the foundation, we knew that field work was important to us and we wanted to remain invested in the most important parts of our work. We want to continue to build genuine and lasting relationships with our field partners, field workers, the children supported by the foundation and their families as well. India is a large country and some of the cities we work in are far apart, so at times it can be a little difficult being able to spend time in all of the cities we operate in but we truly believe in building lasting trust and communication and have committed ourselves to doing what it takes to have some quality “face time” with our network.

For this trip we have a number of activities lined up and are looking forward to spending time in the country we love with the girls that are supported by the Gyanada Foundation. For this visit our activities will include a craft session for Kolkata kids with our Partner, Calcutta Rescue, an Electronics Bootcamp in Ranchi and a stop in Mumbai to visit Mulund children. In Kolkata we will meet the girls in the centre near Burrabazar run. We will be spending a little more time in Ranchi and are thrilled to be hosting our first ever Gyanada Electronics Boot Camp. The idea of the Electronics Boot Camp was inspired by our goal of increasing access to computers, internet and basic technology. We know from our experiences working with this community that our children are extremely bright and deserve access to the same opportunities that their peers have.

Meet Gyanada in Delhi

September 24, 2015

Gyanada Girls After an encouraging week of field work in Jharkhand, our team is in Delhi this week to meet partners, our kids, and make plans to expand our work and impact here in Delhi. We would love to meet Delhites who are interested in learning more about education non-profit work.

If you have ever thought about contributing to or being part of a non-profit, or if you’re passionate about girls’ education in India, come say hi to us here.

When: 26 September 2015, 5PM
Where: Kunzum Travel Cafe, Haus Khaz Village, New Delhi

RSVP here, or just show up!

Education in India, from an NRI perspective

August 13, 2015

I am Parul, a girl from the capital of India, Delhi. I studied in a
public school in Delhi for 14 years. I completed my high school with
the central board before getting admitted to Nanyang Technological
University, Singapore. I came to Singapore in 2009 to complete my
engineering in one of the most renowned universities in the world.

Even though the literacy percentage for girls has increased in India
in the past few years, the percentage is still low compared to the
figures in many other developing nations. The reason for the low
literacy rate for females can be attributed to a number of factors.
One reason is the oppressed castes and underprivileged communities who
don’t understand the importance of education – although this is
changing – and another is that many don’t have the financial means to
send their children to school either.

Besides the parents not being very supportive of educating their
children, there is a bias towards sending boys to school and giving
them preference over girls – especially when it comes to paying for
education. While girls attend primary school in roughly equal numbers
to boys, the gap widens as they get older and more are forced to drop
out to help with work at home or get married.

A majority of parents who do understand the importance of girl
education don’t have the means to provide that education. The number
of government schools is relatively low in the suburban and rural
areas where the majority of the Indian population resides. Elite
private schools are available only in cities and are not affordable
for the middle class population. A huge percentage of the government
schools are in a pitiable condition.

The infrastructure is poor, the classes are overcrowded with pupils
and the teachers are not qualified enough – and something more
relevant for girls, often there are not enough functioning segregated
toilets. It is a common for the government schools to be gloomy, have
bare-walled classrooms, have low benches and desks. Small cramped
rooms, packed with young girls sitting on floor unattended are a
common sight in such schools.

But as mentioned above, the same India also does host some very fine
private schools – places where the population is diverse with
near-equal gender representation. These schools have a good
infrastructure and teaching faculty. While to get into such a school
is hard because of the competition and increased financial burden,
graduating from a renowned school opens gates to many international
and national universities. It gives all the children the visibility of
the possible opportunities and the right path to follow their dreams.
Such schools aim at the overall development of children.

I was a fortunate child whose parents understood the importance of
education and had the means to send me to one of the country’s best
schools. However well aware of the situation most girls in India stay
in, I feel it as a part of my responsibility to work towards their
better growth and proper development. Maybe as a starting point
between the badly run government schools and the elite private
schools, we can help some underprivileged girls by allowing them to
afford budget private schools.

I want to give back to the society and be part of an initiative which
will help many girls stand on their own feet and will help them make
the right choices. I am glad to be a part of Team Gyanada which has
given me such an opportunity.

Education, freedom and social transformation in India

March 15, 2015

The following essay by Maitreyee Roy Malakar from IEM won first prize in our essay writing competition for International Women’s Week 2015

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” – George Washington

What is Education? Is it only a key to achieve those glamorous degrees? Then why is it such that despite having so many degree-holders in this country, moral education is the thing that the country lacks? If there was a system to test humanity of each of these degree-holders prior to achieving those degrees, the number of degree holders in this country would drop by such a margin, we cannot even imagine!

The recent controversial documentary on the Nirbhaya case that took the country by storm,that showcased the thoughts of the “educated” lawyers of our judiciary system points out how much education in India has degraded. India, now, stands on the brink of utter hopelessness and helplessness. Government surely has taken a lot of attempts to bring education to our society. But more than that bookish knowledge, what India needs now is education on humanity and morality. Character building should be the first and foremost subject in each child’s education.

“Without education, your children can never really meet the challenges they will face. So it’s very important to give children education and explain that they should play a role for their country.” – Nelson Mandela

Freedom does not come to one through the kind of education one undergoes in schools or colleges.

Freedom is an attribute of oneself. It comes to one when one can set its mind flexible to the changes around. Orthodox societies can never be the breeding ground for freedom. If one can relate to problems of others, if one can reach out to others in their times of need, one’s soul is bound to get freedom.
Now-a-days,many of us get confused by the term “freedom”. Freedom comes at a cost. India provides us with freedom of speech. But in spite of using this freedom for betterment of our society, everyone of us is exploiting this freedom to serve our egos, personal desires. People are losing sanity. Abusing others and using freedom of speech to cover up for these abusive actions; freedom does not allow one to do that. Social media, one of the greatest fruit of social transformation has become the breeding ground for such insanities.

Social transformation in India has changed so many pictures. It had assumed a truly structural dimension engulfing the whole of society. Greater political participation, exposure to media led to new social and political awareness. The cumulative results of various social forces along with major investments in science and technology, in agriculture, industry and health etc. have shown impressive results. In urban-industrial domain a new mercantile entrepreneurial class has emerged. All this has been possible due to the increasing awareness regarding right education.

“A good education is the greatest gift you can give yourself or anyone else.” -Mahtab Narsimhan.

So come and participate in educating India.

We thank Maitreyee Roy Malaka for her wonderful insights and for her participation in the competition.