Headline Nov 07, 2015/ "' A SLUMDOG NOBEL LAUREATE "' : !WOW!



FROM AROUND the Indian Village, another 20 children, aged between 6 and 14, crowd around, keen to see what what this mysterious addition to their remote community can do.

Men came from the city the day before, built a brick hut in the middle of the village and positioned the screen facing out from a window. 

The children were only told that this new machinery was for them to play with. Two nine-year old boys press their faces to a flickering screen.
''What is this, Television?'' asks one.

PROFESSOR SUGATA MITRA realised that a mixture of group discussion, leaving the children to for themselves and a desire to impress their peers or elders was a powerful combination for getting them to study unaided.

By 2007, he had become a   professor of educational technology   at Newcastle and extended his experiments to a Gateshead school.

After less than an hour, working in groups of four using only the Internet, a class of ten-years-olds had answered  6 GCSE  questions.

A few weeks later, he quizzed the children without allowing web access and again they aced the test.

"Teachers ask me,   'Is this real education?' "says Mitra.  "But if you're learning, getting the answers right and remembering them, what else were you going to do in a class?"

Twenty-year-old Student Swapnal Kadam is a proof that the kiosks can have a lasting effects. One was installed at her school in the remote village of Shirgaon near Goa in 2002 and Swapnal became obsessed with articles about space.

Her father was a humble school clerk and she lived in a brick hut, but the PC taught her how to learn. She resolved to become an astronaut.

"Without it, within a couple of years of leaving school, I'd have been a housewife. Now I'm studying aeronautical engineering," she says.

At a time when computers are often criticized for  making us isolated and socially inept, Mitra believes that ideas such as the  HIW  *{Hole in the Wall}*   could bring us close together:

"I would love to see a learning station in every pub.    

''They're all in public places and only one has been vandalised while none has been used for  ''porn''.  If British parents put their children 's  PCs in the sitting room, they'd find their children saying, 'Come and look at what I've found,' a lot more.''

In India, he's seen the  HIWs break down the rigid caste system, with middle-class children crowding round the blacksmith's son for lessons and skilled girls given a prominence among their male peers that they rarely enjoy in wider society.

Computer skills will also be vital for poorer Indians to operate in a world where everything from buying food to getting the news is increasingly done on a PC.

HIWs in countries such as Cambodia and South Africa, gifted by the Indian Government, have also been a success.

HIW has won Mitra many awards and, though now administered largely by NIIT, it takes up a lot of his time. But he has never made any money from it.

"I am a social scientist and that would skew my results," says Mitra, who hopes next to take the project to Afghanistan and China. "I'm not even proud of it. The work's not over and pride is the beginning of the end."   

Whether he likes it or not, Professor Mitra received a little showbiz exposure recently with the success of Slumdog Millionaire.

"Ah, yes," he giggles," I came back from a lecture and found an answer phone message from NIIT saying that Vikas Swarup    [author of  Q&A, on which the film is based] had told the press my work was his inspiration.

I got his email address and thanked him for the acknowledgment. To my surprise, he responded within the hour saying he was honoured that I had contacted him.

"I loved the film, but I told him my dream is to see a  Slumdog Nobel Laureate, not a Slumdog Millionaire. Maybe that can be the sequel."

Good thinking and Great Work that, Professor Mitra!

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society:

''' Hole In The Wall '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!