There are plenty of quality online learning platforms, such as Khan Academy. However, a vast number of children growing up in poverty in India, despite remarkable abilities, cannot benefit from such platforms as they lack the following:
(a) awareness of their own strengths; (b) motivation and career ambition; (c) inspiring learning environment;
(d) language and comprehension skills; (e) affordability of internet-connected device.
Pratibha Poshak is a talent search-nurture project initiated by Rajalakshmi Children Foundation. We identify exceptionally talented young kids from severely underprivileged and remote rural areas and economically backward urban areas in India, and amplify their potential by connecting them in peer cohorts with creative teachers and caring mentors across the globe. Pratibha Poshak focuses on 14-16yr olds studying at state-government schools from families with very low income.

Pratibha Poshak Process at a Glance

What is the age-group of students admitted into programme?

Students having completed 8th grade (age 14-15) are enrolled in this programme. They remain in the programme until they complete 12th grade and enter university education.

How are the students selected?

At the first level, we use data from National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Examination (NMMS) conducted every year by DSERT, Government of Karnataka. Students having family income of less than INR 1.5 lacs ($2,000) per year and studying in Government or Government-aided public schools are eligible to write the NMMS Examination. At the next level, we conduct an independent test where we teach them a small new topic and assess their ability to understand and apply the concept to solve non-trivial and practical problems. We also interact with the parents of selected students.

Where do these students live and study?

Most of these students live in villages, small towns or in economically backward urban areas and obtain completely free or very low-cost education in Government or Government-aided, vernacular medium (Kannada) schools. We plan to begin with students from Belagavi and Dharwad districts and gradually extend it to students all over the state of Karnataka. Most of these students speak Kannada, but they can understand Hindi.

How are the students enabled for online learning?

Every student selected for this programme is given a tablet PC (a tab) with Wi-Fi and LTE support. Students are also given network data packs. A workshop is conducted on using the device effectively for online learning. A local coordinator is assigned to resolve any difficulties they may face.

What happens after these students complete their 12th grade?

After the students complete their 12th grade (two years of pre-university education) in Science, we ensure that they enroll for an undergraduate programme in pure sciences, engineering or medicine as per their inclination and merit. We help these students obtain education loan from banks. Students will continue to be in touch with the respective mentors even during their undergraduate studies.

A Cradle of True Learning

What do the students learn in the online classes?

Mathematics with Applications, Logical Reasoning, Physics, Chemistry and English (communication and grammar) are taught online by highly experienced and inspiring teachers. Students attend 12 hours of online classes every week outside their school hours. In addition, students interact with mentors at least twice a month.

How is the teaching different?

We strongly believe that learning should be a joyful, deeply satisfying and enlightening experience. Rote learning of concepts without deeper understanding, lack of emphasis on interesting applications, too much emphasis on exam scores has often killed the natural curiosity children have. In Pratibha Poshak we motivate every topic with relatable and interesting applications and ignite curiosity. We make the students understand the "why" (and not just the "how") of everything they learn. Our teachers encourage questioning and democratic discussion in the classes. We place great emphasis on developing students' ability to think deep and solve hard problems applying the concepts in non-trivial ways.

History of Pratibha Poshak

Pratibha Poshak has its roots in the work RCF started in 2016 under the name Sharada Pratibha Poshan Upakram (SPPU). The aim of this initiative was to identify and nurture talented students from economically disadvantaged families, and to make high quality all round education accessible to them. This programme, which began in mid 2016, had the following activities:-

  • Spreading the beauty and joy of mathematics and science through school visits
  • Identifying and nurturing talented, sincere students from economically disadvantaged families
  • Imparting skill oriented technology education to government school children
  • Helping children develop holistically.
  • Provide financial aid to talented students and strive to ensure such students do not drop out of school
  • Empowering government school teachers with top-tier, freely available resources and facilitating their participation in high-quality training for exceptional teaching delivery. Teachers are also supported to participate in good quality workshops and training sessions.