The Rising Tide
What do you think Jamuna (from Andhra Pradesh) a rural teenager, who hated lessons, and Vibha Sabhale a bored, senior, government school teacher (from rural Satara) might have in common? Today, both are filled with a new zeal for science.
This unheralded change sweeping across the education sector of rural India has been brought about by Agastya International Foundation - a Bangalore-based non-profit educational trust whose stated aim is to ‘transform and stimulate the thinking of economically disadvantaged children’ by ‘bringing innovative science education to the doorstep of government schools in India.’
Ramji Raghavan, a social innovator and entrepreneur dreamed of one day building a school that would produce intelligent, creative individuals. Ramji and the team he had put together, believed that raising awareness through experiments, and publishing their results, will spur thinking and creativity. And in the year 1999, the Agastya International Foundation was born.
Agastya acquired land outside the town of Kuppam in Andhra Pradesh, close to the border of Karnataka. Far from civilization, it was a challenge to get students to the center. That’s when the seed of ‘mobile labs’ was sown. A truck was modified, to carry a number of scientific models and experiments into the field; Education was taken to the students. Kids crowded around this magical truck loaded with interesting experiments. And, these labs multiplied.
Agastya eventually abandoned the idea of opening a school. Instead a more ambitious venture of catalyzing children and teachers everywhere was born. This program attracted philanthropists, and the government of Karnataka. Eventually, it became a huge success and catered to enthusiastic students and teachers alike.
By 2010, Agastya boasted a number of fully-equipped laboratories with children flocking to them on a daily basis and their teachers being trained to be able to help assist them.
In 2014 Dr. N. Sudha Murty of Infosys Foundation paid a visit to the Kuppam Campus and was impressed by it. Subsequently, Infosys Foundation funded a workshop to train teachers from schools in Maharashtra at the Agastya campus.
The success of the Teacher’s Training Program with the Maharashtra government, has led to Agastya expanding their horizons. With the help of Infosys Foundation and Infosys Science Foundation, Agastya plans to take this program across the country.
Today, Infosys Foundation has committed rupees six crore for the training of teachers across India.