AI to Robotics, Pune-based NGO Provides Free Training to Kids From Rural Communities
“Identify not just with the powerful, but with the powerless” - Payal Manan Rajpal, founder of Robotex India.
Over the years, educational institutions in India have created room for robotics and AI on their curriculum. While students from Europe and China are introduced to robotics and coding around the age of 5, most Indian students learn the same during their graduation, missing out on years of learning. Without doubt, there exists a massive technology-based education gap in the K-12 (kindergarten to 12th grade) sector and most children lack access to the right guidance, tools, and resources.
Robotex India, a Pune-based NGO advancing in robotics, AI, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) was founded by Payal Manan Rajpal to help children access these advanced topics at an early age. This initiative connects students with hands-on learning programs, enabling them to develop technical skills and life skills.
Robotics for rural
In the first National Championship organized by Robotex, 99.9% of the participants comprised of students from private schools, but the student who won the second prize looked nothing like the others, recalls Payal. Although the robot designed by this 8-year-old didn’t appear to be compact, it was designed to solve a real-time problem. He came from a Gujarati medium school and told the team that his robot was designed to assist his father, a farmer. He went on to explain that his father owned no cattle and needed to sow seeds on time, so he designed a seed sowing bot.
How did he do this? The boy was self-taught! He said the robot was a hand-me-down from another 8-year-old boy who lived at the house where his mother worked. This child would visit the affluent household and make use of their wi-fi to access YouTube tutorials on his mother’s phone. With help from the other child, he learned a skill to help his father. His desire to learn at the age of eight sparked the idea of Robotex India for rural, tribal & government schools. Since private schools and colleges provide access to these advanced topics at a young age, most Indian students, especially those belonging to low-income households, miss out on the opportunity to study hands-on. This initiative would bridge the learning gap.
Amidst the digital divide and the global pandemic, the Robotex team now successfully runs various programs such as ‘Robotics for Rural’, ‘Girls who Build Robots’ and several other boot camps to help children from underserved communities level up with private school students for the global coding championship. The team strives hard to overcome demographic barriers to provide education that is accessible and free of cost.
Robotex India focuses on reaching out to rural and tribal communities to educate children about the latest trends in technology. Like-minded individuals and organizations who share this vision joined forces with Robotex and their CSR funds have helped educate more than 20,000 students. Today, Robotex India works alongside countless government schools and NGOs, helping children develop skills through technology.
For the youth
“Soon you realize in the journey of life that giving back to society is as important as what you do. Life needs to have some meaning and purpose. Most of us are fortunate enough to receive good education and it only grows when you pass it on to those who don’t come from privilege. Identify not just with the powerful, but with the powerless. The sense of purpose and satisfaction that comes with uplifting others, ironically, is what separates us from robots”, says Payal in an interview with Giving for Good Foundation.
Robotex aims to change the lives of 2 million children by 2025 and scout out scholarships for more students. For the entire team, listening to their children talk about their dreams come true is the best reward for all the work they put in. Way forward, it is in our hands to change the lives of children and earn ourselves the purest rewards.