By Anwesha Dhar:
Nitin P. Khanna’s career started out like a dream-he did his engineering and then got an MBA degree. It was when he got involved in Frontline Training that things began to take shape. He has been involved with training and education for eighteen years now, using a ‘self-teaching methodology’ which has proved to be widely successful. It was this experience and a burning desire to change the face of education and educational methods forever that led to the foundation of Sarva Shiksha Academy.
“Sarv Shiksha Academy is a social organisation focused at elementary school education. We are pioneers of what we call Film Based Teaching Methodology. Statistically speaking, India needs to teach more than 20 crore children”, Nitin says, “and this is just a rough estimate of children till class eight. We must also remember that these kids need to be taught in different languages, depending on the region. It’s a mammoth feat to be achieved, yet, these kids don’t have books at home; they have no teachers.” It is here that the unique vision of Nitin and Sarva Shiksha Academy comes to play. “Our first step is to prepare a standard curriculum and make it available online for free. We believe equitable resources and opportunities should be available to each and every child out there. If technology is providing such an avenue, why are we not making use of it?”
To materialise this vision, Nitin and team are preparing videos, in regional languages, with educational content. Right now they are concentrating on making videos dealing with mathematics, the instruction being in Hindi. (Watch video here) “It will be later dubbed to other languages. The reason we are doing it in Hindi first is because it is a widespread language, spoken in at least nine Indian states. The video is made to teach integers to students of class six.” Yet, the task is not easy. They are going about it at their own sweet pace, consulting many state board books, as well as NCERT. “Teaching is the main focus. It is from there that impact springs. This project once done also includes addressing the need of developing special training material (STM) for special training programs (STPS) under the provisions of RTE Act.”
The challenge of marketing this venture is proving to be quite arduous. “We are willing to partner with anybody for proper dissemination with frontline education delivery.” Talks are on with schools and organisations. The making of the video itself is a long drawn and tedious process-first, the advice of all the mentors and advisers is taken into account (the panel consisting of eminent dignitaries like the former Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University) and then shooting the video at a proper studio in Mumbai. “The design of video itself is quite challenging. It’s a different kind of video…it has to have the local language flavour.”
However, the zeal and enthusiasm in SSA remains unaffected at the face of these small impediments. Nitin relates their vision by saying, “If resources are made available, other linkages will fall into their place. Our vision is to ensure that every child at least has the access to gaining information. No child should say that he or she could not achieve their dream because they did not have the means. That should never be the case.”