Many people have many questions about this project !
Why am I doing this ? Do I have a hidden agenda ? How do I benefit ? Where are the funds coming from? Are there any strings attached ?
Here are some answers.
I am funding this from my personal funds, which is why there is no paperwork or delay. If you are the right NGO, I will be happy to partner with you !
God has been kind, and I want to use my money to help all Indian kids have access to the same high quality education I was able to provide to my kids. I have ear-marked Rs 2 crores for this experiment, and want to run about a 100-200 pilots across the country. I expect most will fail, but am hopeful that we will have enough success stories to ensure this becomes a viable options.
Think of these Community Based Learning Centers as Public Digital Libraries or Community Educational Cybercafes. Why should libraries be restricted to school buildings alone ?
These centers will be a Community Resource for anyone who wants to use it. We will start off as positioning them as After-School Hours Technology enabled Learning Centers, because parents are comfortable with the idea of sending kids to tuitions, because they aren’t happy with the quality of education schools provide. Because each kids has access to a PC, this will be our USP. Many kids suffer from an inferiority complex, which is why their potential remains untapped. Access to online resources will help them overcome this , because they can now learn from the world’s best teachers !
The staff will be loving adults , who care about kids and are trusted by the community. Their job is to keep the kids safe , ensure they don’t fight with each other or damage the equipment—not to teach them. Illiterate housewives are fine too – the kids will teach them how to use the PCs. The kids will learn for themselves, by using online resources and from each other. What they learn will be up to them, because their learning journey will be powered by their own curiosity. This will deliberately be unstructured, so they are free to learn what they want, when they want. They are free to play games, and watch movies, if that’s what they want to do .
We think it’s important to charge for the services the center offers. Charity damages self-respect, and it’s important that it be self-sustaining. If parents are willing to pay fees, this is a clear sign we are adding value. If parents refuse to pay, this means the experiment is failing
What about salaries for the staff ? This needs to be funded by the NGO. The plan is that the center will generate enough revenue to be able to pay for staff salaries in a few weeks. What about paying for the space ? This needs to be provided by the community People have a soft corner for children, and understand the importance of educating them, and are happy to help, but they also need to have some skin in the game!
For me, the biggest problem is finding the right NGOs to partner with. You should have been working in the community for at least 3 years, and be willing to take ownership of these centers in the community
We will provide the technology ( 10 PCs) and the curriculum ( if you want this). You will need to provide the safe space, an electrical connection, the internet, the supervision , the staff and the students ! You will need to build in public, by setting up a website for each pod, so the center can showcase their activities, and prove to the world how much their students are learning. We want NGOs who share this vision, and will take ownership of the pilots they run, so they can create success stories others can replicate.
The centers are not restricted to kids alone – everyone is welcome to use the resources. They can be offered free access for occasional use, or a membership fee can be charged. This is a decision each center will need to make.
Please email me at email@example.com if you are interested, and convince me why you will be able to pull this off.
If you can get a warm intro to me, this will help me move even faster !