Three years ago, the world crooned when a fourteen year old girl took a bullet to her head for her right to education.

Thousands of years ago, India gave the world ‘zero’.

What has changed in the time between these two incidents?

The world has moved on but India is still going in circles, celebrating the ‘zero’.

Thanks to the founders of our constitution, we do not have legal issues regarding female education, we do not have rampant terrorism and we clearly are not under war or a coup. Yet. Yet the state of our education system is not better than any other underdeveloped country. States like Kerela have 98% literacy but is that sufficient to achieve the envisioned “India 2020”?

Definitely not. What we need is a broader perspective towards education. Merely opening schools and running mid-day meal plans is not going to rescue us from the drowning state we are in, at present. It is unfair even to the children who attend school that in a world which is gearing up for a tech savvy life, we give them a false hope of a bright future by teaching them to write cursive. A connection to the technical miracles of not just science, but education as a whole (virtual classrooms, online learning, educational softwares and applications) is necessary.

This is where the mission of Vetrivel Foundation’s ’s Khan Academy Tamil Project comes into play, in collaboration with Khan Academy to bring the “tech-touch” to Indian education system. The project aims at providing high quality education through videos that cover the school curriculum, dubbed in the local language for a better understanding. It is not only a means of learning for students, but also a way for teachers to supplement their teaching. Starting with Tamil, hundreds of Khan Academy educational videos, including subjects like maths and science, have been translated/subtitled. Not to mention the efforts of the devoted volunteers who have worked selflessly to bring the children of Indian village schools closer to a new experience of learning.

Several volunteers have been working closely for over a year with pilot schools in ruarl areas of Tamil Nadu, helping them incorporate new teaching tools into their classrooms. Video monitors, dubbed tapes and video players have been made available to the schools where access to internet is not possible. Once the project is successfully developed, teasted and implemented in the pilot schools in Tamilnadu, Vetrivel Foundation aims to expand  by continuing the same in other Indian states (languages) as well. The reason so much stress is being laid on making study materials available in native language is to basically provide better grasp of the subject. It would also be easier for the teachers (and schools) to adapt to it without having to make much change to their teaching methodologies.

Even though Vetrivel Foundation has started working hard to bring quality education to the most inaccessible parts of the country, it is not going to help much without the cooperation of the people. You could volunteer at the website and contribute in any way you would like. Above all, you could simply help the cause by ensuring that the children around your area get quality education, even if you are not a part of the Vetrivel Foundation.  Education is empowerment. Let us come together as a nation and build an empowered youth that can take us to the heights our forefathers have dreamt.

- Iflah Laraib