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Prof. Prema Nedungadi of AmritaCREATE, was an invited speaker at the Vatican conference on “Children and Sustainable Development: Challenge for Education”, held November 13-15, 2015 at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. She presented Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s Amrita RITE (Rural India Tablet enhanced Education) model that was inspired and guided by Chancellor Amma’s vision to provide both ‘education for making a living’ and ‘education for life’ skills.
Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, spoke highly about Chancellor Amma’s vision and Amrita SeRVe model as the most comprehensive implementation of Inclusive Education. He recollected Amma and Pope Francis signing the Faith Leaders’ Universal Declaration against Slavery, along with other global faith leaders. Prof. Bhavani, AMMACHI Labs, presented the Women Empowerment and Sanitation project. Prof. Karen Sneha Moawad, Amrita Center for International Programs- ACIP a United Nations Empower Woman’s Champion, invited everyone to participate in Amrita’s Live-in-Labs® program. Other distinguished speakers included: Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences; Dr. Jeff Sachs, Professor & Director of The Earth Institute, Columbia University; Dr. Werner Arber – President of the PAS, Nobel Prize in Physiology /Medicine (1978); Dr. Kaushik Basu, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, World Bank and Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Distinguished Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego.
Professor Nedungadi made the case, that enabling Inclusive Education, if done in a holistic manner, has the potential to achieve many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and can be replicated worldwide. The Amrita RITE methodology evolved with AmritaCREATE’s experience at 41 remote Amrita SeRVe villages in 21 diverse states of India over a period of two years. The integrated model includes technology adapted to rural areas and connects school education with nutrition, health, moral values, technology initiatives, gender equality, respect for each other and gratitude to Mother Nature to ensure the holistic growth of the child. Local community members are trained and engaged, thereby taking ownership and becoming self-reliant to effect change in the village. Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s Live-in-Labs® programs provide the opportunity to the students to visit and conduct research that benefit the village. The Live-in-Labs® program creates awareness and involvement in the students who participate and gives a big boost to the communities they impact. The model is sustainable, scalable and replicable in both urban and rural areas.
Amrita RITE tablet technology is multilingual in 9 languages and especially adapted for rural India to work without consistent Internet or electricity is used for class subjects. Award winning, free-access, Online Labs for Science (OLabs) is included to support conceptual learning of sciences. Because essential health and social awareness is lacking in these communities, material on health topics such as nutrition, sanitation, substance abuse and adolescent wellness issues is included; as well as topics on social awareness, such as gender equality, child labor, trafficking and menstrual health. All topics are supported by e-learning aids. NGOs and government-funded programs can incorporate key elements of Amrita RITE’s holistic curriculum, models for community involvement, teacher training and e-learning technology both in villages and urban environments.