Skill-yourself centres that mould entrepreneurs out of novices

From B'luru to Uganda

Skill-yourself centres that mould entrepreneurs out of novices

A school without teachers in a remote village in Karnataka has inspired residents of a refugee camp in Uganda to help them earn a living through self-learning and exploration.

Nakiwale in Uganda has one of the largest refugee camps in the world. The residents are refugees who have fled conflict zones in the Central African nation. Inspired by Project Design Education For Yourself (DEFY), the refugees are creating footwear from discarded clothes, furniture and a vertical slider for a projector by learning from online tutorials.

Project DEFY has created spaces where learners design their own education through Internet and experimentation. Set up by Abhijit Sinha, Project DEFY creates 'schools without teachers' in rural and neglected areas.

"These spaces for self-learning are called Nooks. The word Nook is derived from the Devanagari word Nukkad, meaning spots in villages where residents gather to talk about their daily lives. Learners teach themselves through the power of Internet and peer learning," said Megha Sharma, chief growth officer.

Sinha set up the first space or Nook at Banjarapalya, a remote village on the outskirts of Bengaluru in 2015. Sinha borrowed a few laptops and put it in a room. A few children walked in and started exploring the devices, which they had never seen before. Sinha allowed them to use the devices without his help. After some time, Sinha was surprised to find the children playing games on the laptops.

“I wanted to create a space where learners design their own education based on their needs and thus, Project DEFY was born,” said Sinha, who quit his engineering job to find something that adds meaning to life.

From creating drones to short-films, children turn innovators by identifying problems and devising solutions.

“I was interested in jewellery-making. After coming to the Banjarapalya centre, I learnt to make jewellery. Today, I run an enterprise for making jewellery in my village,” said Dipika.

Project DEFY has many centres - Banjarapalya (now shifted to Kaggalipura); Bajpe in Mangaluru; Nakiwale in Uganda; Kochi and Rampura village in Kolar.

Seeing successful case studies of Nook centres in Karnataka, Social Innovation Academy, a non-profit organisation in Uganda, contacted Sinha to replicate the concept in Nakiwale, where access to education is limited.

"The Nakiwale centre is built of discarded bottles,” said Rajiv Shankar, who heads communications at DEFY. At any given time, there are close to 50 people who walk in to learn at these centres.

Project DEFY has been recognised among the top 100 educational innovations in the world by HundrED, a global organisation that identifies innovative ways of transforming education.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)