“It’s rewarding to see that she’s a fast learner and could have aced us if she had been given all we have”, says her teacher, the 16-year-old Aryamaan Sen.
High schooler Aryamaan Sen may look like a regular 16-year-old who studies in an elite private school and loves football and gaming. But the drive to give back to the less fortunate among their peers distinguishes him from the other privileged past times he can pursue.
He found an able partner in his schoolmate Arnav Chaddha and founded TeachTech in November 2021, an organization that teaches the essentials of computers such as file management, Microsoft Office, using the Internet, emailing, and more to over 2000 students from six different NGOs located across New Delhi and has garnered funding from over 50 volunteers from across India and abroad.
He had co-opted over 50 volunteers; student teachers like him who visit the schools to directly play teacher and help students like Nandini complete their education and learn digital life skills that will give them employability after school.
The pandemic and lockdown showed how much students relied on online learning and the two students decided that it was time to help poor students stagnating at home with no access to computers or online learning.
However, digital literacy comes at a high cost of resources and teachers, making it mostly unavailable for underprivileged students, pushing them to remain in a cycle of poverty. Digital literacy is critical as it helps improve interactions and communication and makes learning and teaching more efficient, say the duo.
Sen observed that while technology like the Internet and digital learning has made information accessible it still divides vast swathes of the population, especially in a country like India.
Students of my age and younger who are less fortunate have no access to computer learning and getting on the Internet and accessing information. I thought I could play a part and help students like me who are left behind due to socio-economic divides
“Students of my age and younger who are less fortunate have no access to computer learning and getting on the Internet and accessing information. I thought I could play a part and help students like me who are left behind due to socio-economic divides,” he says.
With a goal to instill digital literacy at an early age, the organization teaches students starting from class 3 all the way up to class 12.
To promote inclusivity and diversity within the technological sector, one dominated by men, almost 50 per cent of TeachTech’s students and more than 50 per cent of the organisation’s volunteers are young, motivated girls.
TeachTech teaches students at various NGOs coming from families below the poverty line involved in the labour sector, auto-rickshaw drivers and other working-class occupations.
TeachTech also raised money to create computer labs at their partner schools and provide resources for the schools and enable digital learning.
Sen and Chaddha created two computer labs at Bagiya school by Sanshil Foundation as well as Bhagat Foundation in Gurgaon, donating computers, laptops, and projectors to both schools.
TeachTech is also currently working on a program to provide paid internships to some of its senior students at companies.
“This will provide real world experience to them to see how their learning can be applied in large organisations”, says Sen.
The boys are also working on a free online course on the essentials of computers in four different regional languages such as Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi and Telugu to educate the underprivileged from across the country and breaking the language barrier.
TeachTech aims to increase its impact by expanding to many more schools across the country over the next few years to create digital literacy amongst the underprivileged and take a step towards alleviating poverty.
The organisation collected funds through crowdfunding with donations from friends, family and well-wishers from across the globe.
“We want to show that using your privilege to give back to society can start early. You need an idea and the will to see it through,” says Sen.
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