Education is regarded as one of the basic human rights but there are various countries and regions around the world including India where not everyone has equal access to education. There are various challenges that a nation has to overcome to ensure that education is accessible to everyone such as Budget for Education, Affordability of Education, Drop-out Rate, Social Divide, Lack of facilities, to name a few. The global pandemic has further impacted the access to education colossally with many schools moving to online classes but those with the unavailability of good network connection or digital devices are unable to benefit from this shift. Here we bring you the young activists from across the globe who are relentlessly working on a mission to ensure accessibility of education for everyone.
Meet the Class of 2020: Meet the Educationists Making e-Learning Accessible
Nicolau Goveia Leite
A resident of Ourahou village, Nicolau had to leave his education in between after a violent conflict because his parents could no longer afford his education. So, he decided that no other student should have to go through what he went through. He wanted to provide quality education to the children in Ourahou village. It wasn’t an easy task, because the parents weren’t aware of the importance of education, so he took many meetings with the villagers, local authorities and political leaders. After one long month of meetings, finally, his dream came true and UNICEF began the construction of the new school which was inaugurated in March 2018. Today, he has been handling this project with UNICEF and is working as a young activist in education in the little hamlet of Timor-Leste.
Arushi Aggarwal, born in Haryana, began her education in Bengaluru and then moved to New Jersey when she was 10 years old. She discussed with the readers her journey and how she wanted to teach English to children from the villages of Bihar in an interview with the Indian Express. After being exposed to the concept of educational injustice, she began with the ambition to make education available to all, regardless of their gender and economic status. She learned during her experience as a member of the robotics team of her school that, due to a lack of confidence, not many girls opt for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.
Kickstarting her Unknown 16 initiative, she devised programming teaching methods under this initiative that could be used to teach students and then shared them with various NGOs across India. The Lahani Club, a youth group from Bihar who approached her with an interest in implementing her curriculum, was one such NGO. One barrier had to be crossed, and it was that of language. These children had little access to English and their potential for the educational acquisition was limited. So, Arushi took it upon herself to eliminate this challenge and wanted to teach these kids English.
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Amongst the major young activists working towards making education accessible for physically disabled students, Vashkar Bhattacharjee has set up an accessible digital talking book system commonly known as DAISY [Digital Accessible Information System] in Bangladesh. He trained in Japan and decided to create digital access for physically disabled people in Bangladesh. He wanted to prove that even the physically disabled can work in the industry if they are given the right opportunities. He volunteered with Young People in Social Action (YSPA) in his home district Chittagong and started printing in Braille. Soon after, he set up the ICT and Resource Center on Disability to develop technologies which would assist disabled people and in 2005, he launched DAISY. Since then, all books between classes 1-10 have been digitized into multimedia talking books.
As a part of the Malala Fund, Amina Yusuf is one of the major young activists in Nigeria is relentlessly working on girls’ education in Dakace, a village situated in Northern Nigeria where she grew up observing how girls had only access to primary education. The Center for Girls’ Education came to her aid when she want to study further after completing primary school and later became a part of the initiative to ensure girls’ education through Malala Fund. Today, Amina Yusuf is a teacher as a part of the CGE program and familiarises girls with reproductive health decision making helping them understand the importance of self-esteem and independence and informed choices about parenthood and marriage.
Together with his former classmate, Bilal Abidi, Mubeen Masudi, the founder of RiSE, a Srinagar-based coaching institute, developed an app that merged the features of Zoom, Google Classrooms and WhatsApp to check the problems of data overload resulting from individual use of the apps. Their software called WiseApp, is divided into four sections: one for live classes, conversation, review, and resources. They have shared the 13 MB app, which costs around 4-5 lakh to be made, as freeware on Playstore and is currently in use across India by 1500 teachers and 10000 students. Amongst the major young activists bringing online education in Srinagar, he got a special congratulatory and appreciation tweet by the Union Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal.
All these young activists have taken some great steps towards making education accessible to everyone. Their journey has been inspirational, and if more people come forward with such ideas, the face of education will be revolutionized forever. Planning to study a degree in Social Work? Our Leverage Edu counsellors are here to help you find the right course and university as per your interests and aspirations! Sign up for a free session now!