The Indian education system is often the subject of debate over outdated curriculum, rote learning, cost of education, quality of teachers, and lack of infrastructure. The formal education in India still constitutes the traditional model or the brick-and-mortar classes, but owing to the pandemic outbreak, many educational institutes have gone online, to reach out to their students and educate them. While the conventional model is the commonly accepted mode of formal education across the world, the education fraternity is opening up to online education or e-learning as it is also referred otherwise. Everything is going online. And, so is education.
Online education in India is evolving at a swift pace with a bright future, making way for various e-learning platforms, creating a lot of competitors in its industry. “There is no competition – only an ecosystem that needs a grass-root level movement of citizens. The challenges we are trying to solve are huge. We need thousands of eVidyalokas to solve these problems. So, we welcome more and more to do what we are doing”, opines Ravichandran Venkataraman, Chairman, eVidyaloka.
Educating the Rural Youth of India
Started by two socially conscious people from Microsoft, Venkataramanan and Satish came up eVidyaloka intending to democratize education and reach all corners of India, especially the rural areas. Once everything was decided, one of them quit their tech job, while the other continued working, to financially support the venture and his partner. eVidyaloka got its name courtesy to their Guru, Prof. V Krishnamurthy, ex-Dean, BITS Pilani. “When they explained the concept to him, he said that they were creating education in the virtual world, he came up with the name eVidyaloka”, adds Ravichandran
Solving one of the biggest challenges they faced, eVidyaloka received a lot of flake initially. “Whenever we met someone saying we educate children in villages online, we were always asked whether it was as good as the teacher physically standing there to educate these children”, recalls Ravichandran.
The COVID19 Pandemic has brought education to the students’ home, with schools adopting online education now. People have seen their children get educated in their homes and now can comprehend the effectiveness of this methodology along with its amazing benefits. “Everyone has started adapting to e-learning. From teaching online in village schools, we have created video content and streamed it on local TV channels. The virus has played a major role in bringing out the most creative parts of our minds working. It has taken us out of our comfort zones and shown us that we are capable of adapting to change in a significantly short span of time”, says Ravichandran.
Following a spiritually inclined work culture, eVidyaloka is like an opportunity that the cosmos has given to serve millions of children and become better human beings for the founders. “Do we ask the bee as to why it travels from flower to flower to collect nectar and pollinate? It is the cosmic duty of the bee. We don’t seem to thank the bee and neither does it expect to be thanked. At eVidyaloka, we are like these bees – dedicated to delivering education in everyone’s life”, quips Ravichandran.
Providing an Inexpensive e-Learning Experience
Focusing more on setting up a digital infrastructure, eVidyaloka is currently concentrating on getting its technology platform ready and provide quality learning to children. Having made their presence felt in 233 villages across 10 states, they have been teaching 20k+ children, clocking close to 2 million learning hours for the children every year. Started with receiving funds from just a few individuals, eVidyaloka now has large corporates like L&T Infotech, Infosys, ANZ Bank, HP, GE, Broadridge, CAMS, Brillo, investing in them with their CSR Funds. Recently, eVidyaloka has launched a Retail Campaign, which became highly successful with the help of social media.
Necessity is truly the mother of invention. Going forward, e-learning is going to be adopted on a massive scale. Technology has helped in breaking the factory model, which will eventually force the Government to change its archaic rules and support businesses like eVidyaloka. Opening the world to e-learning, going completely online has helped in understanding new ways of delivering quality education, which is easier to adapt and learn. “The shift will create new business models in delivery, content, technology and telecom play, shared services in areas where physical spaces are needed (example – shared sports facilities, shared laboratories, etc). We need to use technology not only to disintermediate but also to bring down the costs of a factory model that can easily be dismantled if the lawmakers help us. At eVidyaloka, we are able to educate a child with Rs.10 per day i.e. Rs.3650 per year”, quips Ravichandran.
At the grass-root level of the movement in education, eVidyaloka is reaching out with high-quality learning to 10 million children, with an aim to empower them to lift themselves and become proud participants in this Global Economy. eVidyaloka is and wishes to be seen as a movement to reach every child. Currently, eVidyaloka is looking to get the word out to millions who will participate and help bring this movement to life. In the long run, the e-platform plans on being open to all children, teachers, schools, and content providers to use and deliver an amazing experience to the children. “We see ourselves as the ‘Bees’ of education, hoping to deliver at least a page of education in everyone’s life”, concludes Ravichandran.