Spotlight On: Online learning support for exam students in New Delhi
Ishan Kapur, a boarder at Wellington College and recipient of the prestigious Diana Award, explains how he fundraised for and distributed digital devices to disadvantaged students in New Delhi.
Reading about the challenges India faced with online education, I stumbled upon statistics that clearly put girls in rural areas at the highest disadvantage in terms of their ability to continue their education throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown.
I recalled my visits to Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama in an isolated, remote location in Orisha. It is a charitable institute for marginalised students from tribal communities in the area. I had visited them several times over the years for a distribution drive spearheaded by my family. I remember we had created uniforms from textile surplus and scrap at my father’s production outlet. I handed them out to the children at the institute.
I reached out to the administrator at Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama with a proposal to distribute handheld devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, along with Internet dongles for their students. I especially wanted to help the girls appearing for the national school-leaving examinations at the end of the ongoing academic year.
My multi-pronged campaign aimed at sourcing unused and second hand devices for students to take classes online, and reduce the amount of e-waste that otherwise would make its way to a landfill, eventually breaking down and seeping toxic waste into the water table. Mismanaged e-waste is also carelessly dumped into the ocean, where it breaks down releasing toxins and can make its way to the food chain when mistakenly consumed by fish.
I started by campaigning within my network to collect old, unused devices, that were still in working condition. I then reached out to Uber Eats, the food delivery service offered by Uber, that had stopped operating a few months before the COVID-19 lockdown. When I shared my campaign idea with them, they donated a number of devices, some brand new and others in mint condition, that the business would not be using. Simultaneously, I reached out to people in my community to raise ₹ 3,96,500/- (£5000) that I used towards purchasing the internet dongles and for refurbishing some of the devices. I connected with Reboot Services to refurbish devices that needed minor repairs.
Adhering to COVID guidelines, I collected all the devices in person as I wanted to thank each individual for their generosity. I reiterated the value of their contribution, enriching the lives of the young girls at Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama.
I collected a total of 92 tablets for the students, four laptops for the teachers, and paired each device with an Internet dongle. Using these devices, students across two examination classes, i.e., Grade 9 and Grade 10, resumed their curriculum on Zoom video.
With some of the raised funds still in hand, I found creative art, STEM, and other subject specific activity kits on Amazon and donated them to the girls at the school, enabling them to explore their interests and potential.
With COVID-19 restrictions in play, I reached out to my friends, family, and peers through short webinars. In these webinars I shared my campaign with them. I supplied online links for them to purchase activity kits or second hand devices to support other communities.
To read more about Ishan’s inspiring outreach efforts, visit https://www.wellingtoncollege.org.uk/news-events/ishan-wins-prestigious-diana-award/