After Sameer Kumar Misra came to Odisha on an SBI Youth for India fellowship to work with Gram Vikas, he saw how rural schools function. He noticed that there is a lot to be done. And his experience in design projects in the college told him that a lab needs to exist where students from a very young age could make models using the locally available materials which could gradually increase their levels to more complex models. With this vision, he started working with middle school kids in Gram Vikas Vidya Vihar, a small school located in a remote village called Rudhapadar between the scenic Eastern Ghats in Ganjam district of Odisha.
At first, Sameer collected samples and gave them to the kids by himself guiding them to make simple models. Then he focused on scientific things. The idea was that if kids make models of the things that are invented in other countries using local material all by themselves, it would enhance their creativity and give them the confidence and vision to invent something for their own country when they grow up. He has just finished setting up the Atal Tinkering Lab, funded by the Government of India. This school has become the only rural tribal residential school in India to have such a lab. The material is locally sourced. This is done so the rural kids can receive the same level of education as their city counterparts at an affordable cost. This also helps them develop entrepreneurial skills which help tackle the migration and unemployment problem. Lastly, the kids find a fun way to learn especially in times of the pandemic when kids are at home.
Scalability and Impact:
Currently, NavKaushal is operating as an initiative and has set up a lab in 2 schools in Odisha. There are science programs running in two more tribal schools in remote villages in the districts of Ganjam, Gajapati, and Kalahandi in Odisha. 1200 tribal kids have been impacted. NavKaushal is also in talks with students of slums in Kachchi Basti, Jaipur to expand the program there. Most of these students are first-generation learners whose parents are either farmers or laborers.
Awards and Recognition: