November 2011, Dharamsala: We are always excited about connecting a school. Connecting a small one on the hills near us is a particular one.
A school with a vision was our destination as we left office in our rusty old office Pulsar, even though the engine is battered and the rear brakes don’t work she won’t hesitate in battling the massive potholes and slippery slopes often a challenge for our AirJaldi team. She might huff and puff but she’ll get you there.
But this isn’t about our old office Pulsar or the challenges that our team faces but about a small school situated in the upper part of McLeod Ganj, the “Dharamkot Government School”. What sets them apart is the vision of going beyond being just another school in rural India, a vision brought to life with Airjaldi providing them affordable and sustainable internet.
It’s a small school with about 45 students aged 5-13 being funded by the government. We met Ravi, the present headmaster of the school, who went all starry eyed when, asked about his plans to use internet for his school with a hope to bridge a gap between the school and the outside world.
With plans to start with just one computer in the beginning he hopes to pave the path to transform his school from a Hindi medium to an English medium school.
The school uses foreign volunteers who help in whichever way that they can, from teaching to extra-curricular activities to anything big or small. Ravi plans to attract more foreign volunteers to come and teach in his school and also provide the students with access to various resources online.
While talking about his plans he very enthusiastically took us to show his “computer lab”, a small room presently capable of fitting only five people. Equipped with drawings of a computer, keyboard, mouse and various internet explorers, it looked ready to take on the big dreams of a small school. He hopes to have a much bigger room than this but happily admits that this is enough for now.
Volunteers are plenty in number but there work is often hampered by the language barrier in many of these schools in rural India. We hope to help and break this barrier by empowering them, and the schools, with internet and helping them achieve educational objectives – and dreams - which till a few years back were deemed flights of imagination at best.