July 25, 2012
School of Engineering, Amritapuri
Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSSs) were setup by the Government of India to provide vocational education and basic literacy training to the poor and the illiterate people of the country. As per the 2011 census, nearly 25% of people in India are still illiterate.
The two JSSs that are managed by the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, and are located in Sivakasi (Tamil Nadu) and Idukki (Kerala) respectively, have won nation-wide acclaim for their effectiveness in combating rural and tribal poverty through educational and vocational training programs.
Now students of the School of Engineering at the Amritapuri campus will extend their expertise to help further this cause, and take literacy training to the unreached and the under-privileged.
Final-year students of Electronics and Communication Engineering, Ananthakrishnan P. R. and Deepak Dileep presented their ideas in a poster titled EduPad: A Tablet Based Educational System for Improving Adult Literacy in Rural India.
Their posted was short-listed as one among the top five in the global poster contest at the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference that will be convened during October 21-24, 2012 in Seattle, USA.
The two students proposed their ideas after a field trip to Elamplassery, a remote village in Idukki District in Kerala.
“The vast majority of the people living in Elamplassery are tribal or Adivasis. From the survey we conducted, we learned that 80% of the adults there have not received an education. There are no schools in the area, we learned,” the two students shared.
Most of the families in Elamplassery earn a living by selling hand-made bamboo products such as bags and mats. The middlemen who take their products to the market, pocket most of the profits, leaving very little for the tribal folks.
“If they were literate and had the ability to work with numbers, then the tribal people could have prevented this exploitation from happening. We believe that EduPad is a good solution for them,” the students underlined.
The students envision EduPad as an interactive tablet that can help people learn to read and write in their own language and in an interactive way, without the need for an external trainer.
“The software will be preloaded with all the alphabets of the local language so that the user can learn how alphabets are written and also pronounced. The user will have the opportunity to practice writing the alphabets on the tablet itself using a stylus by tracing over the outlines on the screen. Words and sentences will also be taught,” the students explained.
“In order to make EduPad affordable for people in rural India, the hardware will be customized. The tablet will have an 8” resistive multi-touch screen, a 667MHz processor, random access memory of 128 MB and 2GB storage. Battery can provide continuous functioning for 6-7 hours,” they added.
The students made the poster with the guidance of Br. Rajesh Kannan Megalingam, IEEE Student Branch Counselor and Assistant Professor, Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering.
The conference organizers received 27 poster entries from all over the world, of which 5, including this one, were short-listed for presentation. Registration fees will be waived and monetary help will be extended for travel and accommodation to teams whose posters were selected.