Want to make a difference in education? Then read on as to how Hamara is cracking this somewhat untractable problem at SFD celebrations at Directiplex. Part 2 in the series.

After lunch, mid-afternoon it was turn of Vikas to share about hamaralinux, a community-based distro which caters to people from all walks of life. A debian-derivative which seeks to focus solutions on education, business, long-range wireless for villages and solutions using localizations as well as developing solutions which are needed in specific situations, case in point the long-range wireless project.

Starting with education, as we all know the standards of education is abysmally low. This has been proved again and again how children are made to rote-learn and the less said about the syllabus, it’s better. It simply has not been able to keep pace with the change around us. This is not to do with the teachers or the ones who set up the syllabus but the entire ecosystem. Education in India historically suffered because we were in isolation from the rest of the world till the early 90’s till satellite cable bought the world to our homes. Apart from that Education was also put into the Concurrent List in 1976 from the State List, see https://en.wikipedia.org /wiki/Concurrent_List#Transferred_Subjects although the reasons and the parties are not known and hence have put citation needed tag on Wikipedia as can be seen.


Vikas sharing with students.


Anyways, the results of both these changes has been that education overall has stagnated more or less with some figurative changes now and then. Also, the bureaucratic layers built into the system also discourage any innovation and teachers themselves are over-burned and dis-incentivised to learn as well as share much. Doing workshops with many a teacher, do know they have lot of thirst to learn and at the same time feel threatened and powerless by technology which also creates gaps between teachers and students as teachers discourage use of technology in classrooms and beyond and it makes students ill-equipped to deal with the changing world around us.

There is a drastic need to change this position otherwise we may well see our country going the same way as some nearby countries are going. If we need to grow, our understanding and knowledge needs to grow, it cannot remain static.


Vikas expounding on issues around education.


Hamara Linux is looking to change this fundamentally by removing out-dated modes of teaching by rote and using a mixture of multi-media, hands on teaching and using teachers as facilitators for intellectual growth of children. The role of teachers now and the future would not be the agents of knowledge as much as how to cope with the changes occurring in knowledge with the students and being emotional and psychological support for them. Teachers with some training would be able to guide and temper children’s thirst for knowledge and also share paths with them which weren’t careers in the teacher’s times.

I can share an anecdote which illustrates this quite a bit. Recently, I was taking a workshop in a school. Suddenly, in the middle of it a long-time friend called up. As had not chatted with him for a long time asked for couple of minutes and came outside and came to know that he has been selected to play the finals in some cyber-tournament which means some games which are played on the computer screen only.

Fortunately or otherwise, the teacher overheard our conversation and asked why my friend was going over-seas for the tournament (Malaysia) and that he might be cracked on head or something. When I showed him the prize pool that could be earned, see http://www.esportsearnings.com/tournaments/largest_overall_prize_pools it was a shock and awe for both the students and the teacher. I did share with them that these are professional players who not only know the game inside out but also play and have played many variations of the game and also at times mod or ask people to do mods for them. While the prize money may seem cool, they have to also spend quite a bit on getting the best equipment, network access and million different things. Also, many of them become or are loners due to the nature of work it is. What was interesting is that the teacher, who had a strong negative bias towards gaming became a bit more neutral. I also shared how gaming is a cultural tool (which it is) and how various studies have shown that moderate use of gaming does enhance skills such as hand-eye coordination and much more.


Vikas - being passionate about education.


Anyways, apart from education Vikas also shared about long-range wireless, business and few other topics which we will explore more in the Pune Edition.