Tag Archives: Education

Using cell phones to change the world

Jhonatan Rotberg, was sent to MIT by Telmex, one of Latin America’s largest telcos, and teaches NextLab where he tries to bring cellular technology to the other 90 percent of the world. One of the labs startups, CelEdu, offers cellphone-based games and quizzes to teach basic literacy skills in India. Ranjani Saigal from the TIE Social Entrepreneurs Group helped connect CelEdu students to Tara Aakshar. You can see some of their work in progress at the CelEdu site


A great article in the Boston Globe highlights the many ideas that have spun out of this lab. Some excerpts below – click here for the entire article.

In NextLab, Rotberg challenged students by asking, “Can you make a cellphone change the world?’’ And students have responded, creating nearly two dozen projects and three start-up ventures that have been working with communities in developing countries like India, Vietnam, and Mexico.

Dinube, a NextLab spinoff that was tested in Mexico last summer, provides payment services to people who don’t have access to traditional banks. “One of the powerful things about cellphones in Mexico is that there is a 75 percent penetration rate,’’ said Jonathan Hayes, a cofounder of Dinube. “But only 25 percent of the population has a bank account. So a cellphone-based system can fill a huge, important gap.’’

An opportunity of a lifetime

An interesting side effect of the global recession on graduating college students – more are considering taking time to get engaged in public service. A recent article in the Boston Globe observes

Instead of going straight into a 100-hour-a-week job at an investment bank, they are pursuing less lucrative but potentially more satisfying opportunities in public service, enrolling in record numbers in the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and Teach for America.

In that article Harvard President, Drew Gilpin Faust observed.
“The path to Wall Street was so clearly defined, so if you weren’t sure what direction to go, this direction was filled with signposts and rewards,” Faust said in an interview. “But we are seeing two historic moments converge: this extraordinary financial crisis and this outpouring of interest in the public sphere.”

Faust said she hopes to tap alumni connections and join with other colleges to set up a recruitment process for public service that mirrors the way the corporate world woos students.

Sasha Dichter of the Acumen Fund ruminates in in his blog post The Other 690 : Continue reading

A visit to the Agastya Center in Kuppam

Last year I had written an article about an interesting organization, Agastya, that was transforming rural education in India by bringing a fresh new approach to teaching and introducing science and technology concepts to parts of the country that are typically ignored. Since then I was fortunate to visit Agastya founder Ramji Raghavan in Bangalore and accompany him to their Agastya Center in Kuppam.

The Agastya center is strategically positioned on 170 acres of rolling hills with panoramic views of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Each day a small flotilla of buses ferry hundreds of kids from neighboring schools to attend a day long series of sessions with Agastya teachers. The center has several discovery centers rooms each dedicated to a subject – biology chemistry and so on. Eager teachers encourage the students to explore, examine and investigate the scientific phenomena being discussed through hands on experiments. Continue reading

ForSE 2008: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs – Ready to roll

The response to ForSE 2008 was as strong as last year and we had to close registration as we reached capacity. This promises to be an engaging and exciting event with a terrific line up of speakers and cases.

Will provide updates after the event.

Agastya – transforming education in India

I had the chance to visit Agastya’s operations in Hubli earlier this year. Agastya is a NGO based in India that is hoping to transform the educational system by making it more interactive, experimental and interesting for children. Recently Ramji Raghavan, Agastya’s founder visited Boston and I had occasion to meet and hear him speak passionately about why he started Agastya after a career in banking. It was wonderful to hear and see some of the videos he brought along about the great progress and impact that the organization is having.

I wrote a piece about it in Lokvani which I am reproducing below .  You can also see it at Lokvani. I will post the pictures I took a little later. Continue reading