Faizuddin Shariff Mohammed

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Can we implement cost-effective analogue solutions to education in Rural India.

I live in Hyderabad, India. My country faces a tremendous problem with poverty and education. India's statistics are bad: a third of the world's poorest, and the highest in illiteracy. These numbers keep changing, but it is still bad.

Sugata Mitra proposed a school in the cloud, strongly supporting self-learning through emotional encouragement as a requirement for educational growth. Even so, the cloud is expensive. A population that cannot afford food or education can only dream at the moment.

Can the existing educational system be improved using analogue solutions, until an infrastructure that can incorporate digital technology is put in place?

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    Jul 28 2013: India is a waking giant. With this comes many growing pains. There is much to overcome on India's path to greatness. One of the problems lies in politics and unfortunately corruption. This has a major impact on the growth and spread of education. As over 70% of the population is employed in agriculture and I assume that those areas are mostly the "poor" you speak of. Farming is a family business. Kids are expected to spend their time in the fields to help support the family ... so time away is money.

    So I would suggest a means of combining the two. Years ago in America we scheduled school around planting and harvesting. The problem I see is that once a person becomes "educated" in your country they want to go off to the big city to make their fortune. Another problem to overcome.

    So one step at a time. Show how reading and books can improve the farmers life and increase productivity. Don't concentrate on education ... focus on learning. When this knowledge is applied and the results are noticed then the first seeds have been planted in the mind. This is a first step. Remember a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

    Perhaps universities could fund scholarships with the provision that they teach two years in a rural setting as selected by the school.

    I don't have any wise words that will solve the issues you face. However, I would love to be part of the solution. If you have a specific area to discuss I would be glad to put in my two cents worth. Together we may find pieces to the educational puzzle you speak of.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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      Jul 29 2013: Bob,
      Your suggestion is fantastic. I am well aware of the farmers, and the thought of combining education with the subject of farming is nothing short of brilliant.

      I am in the process of writing a book on this. I think writing this using fiction could be better suited to reaching the masses, than writing a technical or theoretical account. I guess what I am trying to say is that I would be better off appealing to emotion through storytelling, as against appealing to credibility or logic.

      I have a few ideas in mind that I am still fine-tuning. I would love to share them once they make more sense. I do have a few requests. I would really appreciate:

      1) Any assistance or direction you could provide.
      2) More people joining this conversation and offering their insights.

      Thank you for your reply, it has given me new ways to look at this.

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      Jul 29 2013: Mr Behl,
      Thank you for your reply. I agree, change must begin within us first. I will definitely have a look at the Brahma Kumaris centre.

      I do however believe that change and progress are relative. I may not be able to eradicate the problem of illiteracy, I know that if you more wonderful people join in, I will not be alone in my endeavor. I am working on devising or discovering learning techniques that will allow children to learn with a sense of fulfillment and purpose.

      I am still not sure how, but I have looked into concepts such as Just-in-time learning and self-learning. My aim is not to change the tools, but the techniques themselves.

      I would love to talk further on this topic, if you would be willing.

  • Aug 2 2013: books are knowledge and i would say are most important things in the world. Great men and women, document their experience and knowledge in the form of books to serve as a starting point for others. I have always seen books as important part of human evolution. In United states, i have seen many a times that older edition books are of no value. I have personally gone through this experience of trying to donate some books for free. These books are all technology books which are a version behind the old ones. no one is interested in buying these books nor the libraries are interested to take them because they are old editions. i am having to recycle them. A book of previous version will hold almost 90% of the same material contained in the newer books. These books can serve the developing countries to a great extent. I do not know how, but if collected and shipped to rural area's in India or any other part of the world, they will serve well and people will benefit a lot from them.
  • Jul 31 2013: Hello, Faizuddin:) Firstly, education system should be supported by the government because it is quite hard work only with few individual's help. However, if a lot of people have the same will and prepare to work together for the future generation to live in better education system, It will make a huge differance in a society. All have to stand up and do their best together. Of course, in my country there are still a lot of people living in poverty. But some warm-hearted, great people collect money (for charity) and do volunteer work in abroad (like teaching English for children.) I hope your country, India, would equipped with strong and firm education system:) India is one of the beautiful countries full of spiritual and cultural things:)
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    Jul 30 2013: Please do either find a copy of Poor Edonomics by Banarjee and Duflo or look at the website for the Poverty Action Lab at MIT. Banarjee in particular focuses his research on I ndia and they have identified promising strategies for improving education and the commitment of families to it.


    Their work is not simply theoretical but rather is based on randomized control trials. In other words they look at how approaches actually work "on the ground."

    These researchers identify the obstacles interfering with effective education for poor children in India and how to overcome those. Just as an example, they find teachers during the school year believe they are there to teach the best students in the class because there is a widespread belief that the only thing that matters is completing high school. Parents put all their resources into getting one child to complete high school, often neglecting the educations of those they believe would not pursue schooling successfully to that level.

    Meanwhile they have no trouble getting teachers to work with less advanced children during special summer programs. They also find that tutoring by young adults without professional training is a highly useful supplement to classroom instruction.

    I don't want to try to summarize their important work, but if this is a central interest of yours, I could not recommend any work more strongly than I do theirs.
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      Aug 2 2013: how are they doing now, any good sign of progress yet?
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        Aug 2 2013: Please look at the website of the Poverty action Lab, where they link their findings.

        The tutoring program is a very economical, effective strategy.

        So is offering deworming pills.

        So is "tracking" so kids who are advanced can be taught separately from those who are not and education better tailored to their different needs.

        Another very cost-effective offering is free mosquito nets.
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          Aug 2 2013: I am not sure I have the ability to understand their ways of work, leave alone the possibility of correcting them. Simply put, in your opinion, are they doing a good enough job, and if they are, how long do you think they can completely solve poverty? And if I have some good ideas but I don't have the college degree to prove my method are worthy, who am I need to talk to ? do you know any organization have such "feature"?
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        Aug 2 2013: They have a strategy for learning about what works but they do not run programs themselves. Others need to choose to implement and then do so competently, evaluating as they go.

        I think if you want to do work in this area, you should start by doing research into what is already being done. Research can start with looking on the internet How do you know your idea has not already been tried?

        One place that might interest you as a place to put ideas forward but also as a place to learn how communities might solve problems together is OpenIDEO. They pose specific questions and then have members of the community put forward proposals and share materials.

        As a community they narrow the proposals to those considered most promising. You get feedback on your ideas from other people in the community but also from professionals in program design.

        Look them up online. Anyone can join. Here are their current Challenges. http://www.openideo.com/open
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          Aug 2 2013: good point. Thanks you. But how do you know so much?
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          Aug 2 2013: ?
  • Jul 30 2013: Firstly the definition of education should be understood .The present system of education is not at all education . The present system & the method adopted to gauge the education is only " TESTING MEMORY " It is totally fake & misleading.
    Once Graduated people are considered educated , instead they should consider themselves as ready /or , fit ( there mind have been trained to get the right logic to come to an right conclusion, which is not the case).

    Till this is achieved we will have educated in huge nos. but not employable at any level
  • Jul 29 2013: Hi Faizuddin Shariff Mohammed,India is one of poverty countries,but definitely rich in spiritual issue?Meditation,Yoga,Buddism...

    I think about education,it needs gorverment has a strong supporting and think highly of it is the most prerequisite.Best wishes to you.
  • Jul 29 2013: I am sorry but I do not the environment to make a specific suggestion - I am assuming that the educational system is based on the English system. Given that, I am not sure a patch on the system will work and given the situation.

    Is it possible to get slow internet access through a dish (microwave or satellite) minimal 1 old pc that the village children can share? Power is a question, either solar or manual with battery.
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      Jul 29 2013: Hi Wayne,

      Thank you for replying. It is indeed the British Educational System. It has remained that way for the past 50 years.

      While the system has remained constant, the external environment surrounding it has changed drastically. There are initiatives in places aimed towards cost effective technological solutions. Sugata Mitra's Hole in the wall experiment was one such initiative that took place. The 100$/Akash Tablet is another one.

      However, I guess my aim is to change the existing techniques of imparting education, not bringing in new tools. Power indeed is a problem in the villages. And yes, the PCs can indeed be arranged, but in the future. An old one can be arranged for a 100$, but once again, it is not an 'Analog' solution, it is a digital one.

      • Jul 29 2013: I am all for learning - some students need structure, but many just need direction - if you have the ability to get to the internet (even 1 pc) this will allow the students to learn.