India’s small towns and cities harbour big dreams and ambitions. But often, students from these cities are at a disadvantage as they don’t have access to the quality education their counterparts in metros do. How will experimentation and innovation flourish if students can’t build on a solid foundation of learning?
Students in the metros gain from big players like Byju’s, Khan Academy, and AlmaMapper, but those in Tier II, III, and IV towns are often forced to migrate to educational hubs, including Kota and Hyderabad, or Tier I cities for their education.
Enter these few edtech startups that are focusing on non-metro cities to make top-class education and training available.
International Public School for Rural Innovation
The character of Phunsukh Wangdu in blockbuster film 3 Idiots was inspired by Ladakh’s Sonam Wangchuk. Inspired by India’s missile man APJ Abdul Kalamand Sonam, Anil Pradhan, 23, started a similar school in Odisha.
The Odisha boy’s encounter with the gap between the education system in villages and cities led him to leave good job offers and start International Public School for Rural Innovation (IPSFRI). IPSRI, situated in Baral village of Odisha, is an innovation school for students of classes nursery to 6. IPSFRI follows the same syllabus and curriculum as the Board of Secondary Education in Odisha, but employs technology and innovation in the simplest of topics.
The teachers mostly focus on skill development and STEM education, and use a 3D printer to teach subjects like geometry. IPSFRI’s innovation room has laser cutters, drill machines, cutting machines, wood cutters, and all kind of small tools that children can use.
“STEM education is popular in cities and urban parents can afford it for their children. By starting up in IPSFRI in the villages, we are not only ensuring quality education there but also introducing STEM education,” said Anil.
The students, besides studying regular languages, are involved in activities where they build something new out of broken things, including monitors and refrigerators. Students also participate in sessions on meditation, yoga, and Swachh Bharat programme.
IPSFRI doesn’t charge any kind of tuition fee from the students. Schooling is free for students with a BPL or Ration Card. Anil charges a minimal amount for the materials from students who come from a little-better-off families.
The school runs on donations, and individuals can sponsor the education of children. Machines are sponsored by companies such as Kempii.
Anil soon wants to launch an ‘Innovation School on Wheels’, which is now in the prototype phase. It will be a bus with the innovation room, and Anil plans to take it to remotely located schools across Odisha.