Nandini Singh is a 13 year old girl from Gorakhpur. Abandoned by her father, her single mother earns her living as a cook and wants her daughter to go to school.
“It’s gratifying to see that she learns quickly and that she could have surpassed us if we had given her everything we have,” says her teacher, Aryamaan Sen, 16.
High school student Aryamaan Sen may look like an ordinary 16-year-old who studies at an elite private school and loves football and games. But the drive to give back to the less fortunate among their peers sets him apart from other favored hobbies he may pursue.
He found a competent partner in his classmate Arnav Chaddha and founded TeachTech in November 2021, an organization that teaches computer basics such as file management, Microsoft Office, Internet use , email, etc. to over 2000 students from six different NGOs located in New Delhi and secured funding from over 50 volunteers from all over India and abroad.
He had co-opted more than 50 volunteers; student teachers like him who visit schools to directly take on the role of teacher and help students like Nandini complete their education and learn digital life skills that will give them employability after school.
The pandemic and lockdown showed how much students relied on online learning and the two students decided it was time to help poor students who were stuck at home with no access to computers or learning. on line.
However, digital literacy comes at a high cost in resources and teachers, making it mostly unavailable to disadvantaged students, pushing them to remain in a cycle of poverty. Digital literacy is key because it helps improve interactions and communication and makes learning and teaching more effective, the duo say.
Sen observed that while technologies like the internet and digital learning have made information accessible, they still divide large swaths of the population, especially in a country like India.
Students my age and younger who are less fortunate do not have access to computer-based learning and lack access to the internet and information. I thought I could play a role and help students like me who are being left behind due to socio-economic divides
“Students my age and younger who are less fortunate do not have access to computer-based learning, internet access and information. I thought I could play a role and help students like me who are being left behind due to socio-economic divides,” he says.
With the aim of instilling digital literacy at an early age, the organization teaches students from class 3 up to class 12.
To promote inclusivity and diversity within the male-dominated tech sector, nearly 50% of TeachTech students and more than 50% of the organization’s volunteers are motivated young women.
TeachTech teaches students from various NGOs from families below the poverty line involved in the labor sector, rickshaw drivers and other working professions.
TeachTech has also raised funds to create computer labs at their partner schools, provide resources to schools, and enable digital learning.
Sen and Chaddha have set up two computer labs at Bagiya School by the Sanshil Foundation as well as the Bhagat Foundation in Gurgaon, donating computers, laptops and projectors to both schools.
TeachTech is also currently working on a program to provide paid internships for some of its senior students in companies.
“It will provide them with real-world experience to see how their learning can be applied in large organizations,” Sen says.
The boys are also working on a free online course on computer essentials in four different regional languages such as Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi and Telugu to educate the underprivileged across the country and break the language barrier.
TeachTech aims to increase its impact by expanding to many more schools across the country over the next few years to create digital literacy among the underprivileged and take a step towards poverty reduction.
The organization has raised funds through crowdfunding with donations from friends, family and supporters around the world.
“We want to show that using your privilege to give back to society can start early. You need an idea and the drive to bring it to life,” Sen says.
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