Delegate Spotlight | Education Innovation: Aditya's Work in India
By Zachary Thomas
“I primarily care about education, and strongly believe that quality education (and not outdated education frameworks deeply influenced by social stigma) is pivotal in the empowerment of students, and eradication of social evils such as poverty, unemployment, poor standards of living, unhygienic health conditions and corruption. Education definitely seems like a vital component in the success of tackling every other sustainable development goal.” Aditya Vishwanath works in India to advance the education framework for children to generate brighter futures for all.
Currently, Aditya works for an NGO in Tamil Nadu, India, that focuses on developing an app centered on determining the aptitude and diagnostic testing ability of children. This app is used in after school tablet programs and government schools established in more rural areas. “One of the main problems faced by tutors in rural classrooms (tutors, who are themselves volunteers from different NGOs) is an inability to assess the skill level of each child in the class. This app project is trying to bridge that gap, and consequentially ease the process of diagnosis in a rural classroom, improve evaluation and testing procedures conducted by tutors, and ultimately boost the learning curve of students. I’m working on the development of such an app, that revolves around a simplistic user interface design for use by young kids (of grades 3 to 6) who are alien to such technology (Some of them have never even seen a laptop before, leave aside a tablet.), but who have repeatedly shown a lot of interest in playing with and gaining from such technology. I’m also documenting the response by the students to this technology – their apprehensiveness, comfort, and basic HCI (human computer interaction) in a learning environment.” Aditya has found that using his prowess in technology and computer science in a humanitarian approach is something he finds to be notably impactful. “It is the first time that I’m working on such a research and development study in a social environment, and I’m very grateful to be doing it with an amazing team of thinkers here in India. My first visit to the village to watch the project in action was wonderful – the kids loved a visitor and were very warm to me, and they’re all extremely motivated and sharp. I felt very inspired, and hopefully, in the near future, we can expand this simple use of a technology in the classroom to more diverse education technologies and to more schools.”
His work in India has generated a campaign idea that seeks to revolutionize outdated education practices in many countries. “I believe that in most countries with a large student population (and particularly in my country, India), there exists an age old education system that is not entirely in sync with the current needs and goals of society. There are fundamental flaws in the institutionalized procedures of rigorous standardized testing systems, the quality of courses taught, freedom to choose courses, and the usage of education technologies in learning environments. In developing countries such as India, there is also a strong social stigma associated with different fields of study, categorizing some fields as superior to others, and thereby restricting students to only specific fields of study. Moreover, the study of STEM subjects tends to lack innovative thinking and research, and the system ultimately creates a great team of people who will follow orders, but not a great team of people who will innovate, research, and lead. Consequentially, developing countries such as India have to live off the research and development done by other nations, and this results in the growth gap between countries across the world.” With the use of technology, Aditya hopes to develop a method through which that disparity can be reduced. “My aim is to design a comprehensive, inclusive and updated education structure that accommodates the interests of every kind of student, and challenges the existing social education norm in most developing countries. I also hope to create an education model that inculcates the spirit of research and innovation at an early stage, supports research in STEM fields and also rewards a career in research.” He feels that a Global Partnership for Development, the 8th Millennium Development Goal, can be achieved through education.
Aditya looks forward to the conference as a means for “building long term associations with like-minded student leaders and front runners in the field of education research and developmental technologies. I also hope to create an active support system with leaders, organizations and entrepreneurs from other spheres of development such as health, public policy, government and employment. The goal is to measure progress through the creation of a team of students and mentors, who are frontrunners in the field of developmental research.”
Aditya is just one of the many amazing delegates already registered for the 7th annual Millennium Campus Conference the United Nations from August 11-15th where he, along with others from around the world, will come together to think, connect, and act to challenge the paradigms that perpetuate inequality and to redefine the world around us. Apply at mcc15.org/delegateapplication to join the movement and promote social change!