Tablets to cure illiteracy

Children engrossed in learning their lessons with the MKD Tablets.
Children engrossed in learning their lessons with the MKD Tablets.

Eight-year old ­Diksha is a darling in her neighbourhood. She goes around teaching illiterate people in her village near Pune with the help of a trendy ‘MKD’ tablet, a brainchild of 89-year-old Rtn Kulbir Dodd of RC Poona North, D 3131. The Maharashtra government is expected to sign an MoU with the club to distribute the tablet in 10,000 government schools in the State.

Dodd quit his high-paying job as an industrial engineer in the US, and settled down in Pune in the late 1990s. Even during his stint in the US, in the 1970s–80s, he was promoting the concept of education for all through audio-visual gadgets. After settling in Pune, he started his education outreach in his personal capacity and his activities were funded by his Trust, Multimedia International Research Associates, he had formed in the US, says Kumar Shinagare, a past president of the club and a trustee of the MKD Trust.

Dodd joined Rotary in 1992 and to realise his dream of Total Literacy, he started the MKD tablet project in 1998. “Initially, there were no takers for his project to spread literacy. Frustrated, he wanted to leave Rotary,” recalls ­Shinagare. The two became friends and worked very hard at the project and the Mira ­Kulbir Dodd (MKD) Trust was formed in 2014,  to give free, compact tablets to government schools in and around Pune. Initially, the students from tribal families were scared even to touch the tablet
as the concept was new
to them.

 

Tripartite agreement

An agreement was signed between MKD Trust, District 3131 and RC Poona North, which would allow a permanent fund flow as DDF to the club each year for global grant projects under the focus area, Basic Education and Literacy. The project motivates children, adults, students, teachers and NGOs to make innovative use of MKD tablets for rooting out illiteracy based on the concept, ‘Teach through Technologies of Today’.

Children teach adults with the help of the MKD Tablets.
Children teach adults with the help of the MKD Tablets.

The Trust has signed the Endowment Gift agreement with TRF to establish a corpus of $100,000 to realise the literacy objectives.

Dodd is poised to become an AKS member, being short of the mark by $60,000. He has contributed to the Term Gift thrice amounting to $90,000.

So far, 1,200 tablets embedded with Marathi software have been given to government schools. Each MKD gadget has roughly 60 hours of usage and even if one puts in an hour of use, he or she could become a complete literate (ability to read, write and count) in two months. Students take home the tablet, teach their parents and return it to the class teacher who assesses the students after a year.

The tablets are loaded with animated lessons called ‘Akshardhara’ developed by TCS and is also available in 12 other regional languages. The club has tied up with nearly 30 NGOs to distribute these tablets and 150 teachers have been trained.

Following its success, requests have come from Rajasthan, Delhi and Kerala governments for introducing these gadgets with Hindi and Malayalam software.

Shinagare can be reached at kumar@kumarenterprises.com or 98231 88900 for more details.

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