“How many of you have used a computer?”
The answer to this question from class 7 students surprised Shoaib Dar, a fellow of Teach For India at the time. The engineer-turned-educator couldn’t believe that only one of them had used this electronic device.
To equip his students for the digital world, Shoaib conducted a 10-day boot camp with four Raspberry-Pi computers, which cost Rs 4,000-5,000. Students created their own games and animations as well as came up with programmed solutions for everyday problems.
This incident prompted Shoaib to begin the Pi Jam Foundation in 2017, an NGO aiming to promote digital literacy among rural children. The organisation has so far provided 400 computers for 15,500 kids in 51 schools around Telangana, Maharashtra and Jammu & Kashmir.
One of the innovations of the students is a weather monitor checking the parameters such as humidity, temperature, rainfall, and wind speed. The collected data from this device is now being used by the Indian Meteorological Society in Pune.
The 31-year-old said, “Children feel that computers are these complex devices that control them. I want them to understand that it is actually the other way around. Also, I did not want them to feel that working with computers is a hobby or an extracurricular activity. I want them to see the potential of learning these skills and how they can be participants in shaping the changing digital world.”
Listen to the inspiring story of Shoaib and his NGO here:
Edited by Yoshita Rao