The bright sparks are in India’s small towns and villages. As one of the youngest and largest manpower resources of the world, India must look to its own outback more urgently to draw top quality resources. This is where the talent of this nation lies. It is our untapped goldmine. Here are a few ways to tap it.
- Merely criticising a system will not provide for progress or change. The kids need “mind engagement platforms”—in the form of quizzes, puzzles or games. It makes them think, question and learn. These are powerful, highly motivating and involve groups, so they enjoy being part of this form of learning activity.
- Knowledge is not the barrier, language is. Close to 14 lakh kids from Karnataka take part each year in the Rural IT quiz for Class 8-12 students in rural areas. You would be amazed to see them crack questions on Larry Ellison, Skype, Facebook or even Angry Birds, provided the questions are in Kannada.
- Confidence and self-belief are the key. We constantly involve small-town and rural students in discussions on what facilities they lack and but never tell them how good they are. Events, competitions, even online contests, are today means to build self-belief in these youngsters.
- Rural children ask more questions, urban kids are conditioned to provide answers. They do not think and question things as much as our rural friends. Innovation will therefore come from the backyards of India. Experimenting is part of their existence as they face far more uncertain situations and are able to apply thought more easily.
- Most students from small towns equip themselves with information beyond what is taught in their classrooms. This is done to cover their fear of not knowing as much as the urban kids.
- The power of one single success story develops a huge belief system that propels many more success stories. This is what our pundits call ‘The Dhoni Effect’.
(The author heads Greycaps, a leading knowledge services firm that has conducted 1,500-plus quiz shows in rural and urban India reaching over 4 million children.)