In a country that has only one eye surgeon for every 1,00,000 individuals, appropriate eye care and immediate attention to vision related issues is vital.
The rational behind Sujana Foundation’s initiative of Vision Care Centres was simple; to provide world class eye care infrastructure to beneficiaries living in remote areas.
A significant portion of eye problems can be corrected or detected at primary level. This can result in substantial savings in terms of time and resources. To address this issue, the concept of Vision Centre / Primary eye care centre was initiated in the year 2002. These vision care centres were successful in providing eye care to around 50,000 people which is a matter of immense satisfaction for me. As on date 144 such facilities have been established in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Through these Vison Care Centres, we aimed to provide better access to systematic eye screening along with increasing awareness about refractive error related visual impairment and blindness. These centres were instrumental in identifying people with blinding conditions and helped in taking preventive measures at the early stages.
What We Achieved
A vision care technician trained by LV Prasad Eye Institute was given charge of each of these Vision Care Centres which was instrumental in providing quality eye care at door steps of the entire population. These centres were also instrumental in identifying the eye defects in the early stages and provided patients with timely assistance which is a matter of immense satisfaction for me. Apart from just providing care, I feel educating people is also of utmost importance and these centres did just that where the patients were given timely sessions in order to understand healthcare in a deeper level. It is a matter of great happiness for me that these centres were instrumental in providing timely and efficient eye care to about 50,000 people.
In the coming days, we aim to extend the coverage of these vision care centres and will try to provide state of the art eye care to more people across the state. By employing technicians who are locally trained, Sujana Foundation is also creating waves in the field of skill development and employment.
Benjamin Franklin once famously said, “Tell me and I will forget, teach me and I will remember, involve me and I will learn.” No other statement describes the concept of e- learning better than this. Although the traditional classroom learning has been prevalent for quite some time, in my opinion, E -learning is the way top go if students are to adapt to the ever-changing technological landscape.
E- learning is indeed a revolution in the field of education. It provides the children with an interactive medium for learning which encourages them to question, understand and implement concepts in real time. This was the primary goal for me when Sujana Foundation initiated the Google Future Classrooms (GFC) concept. I wanted children from government schools to have access to state of the art technology for learning concepts in a dynamic environment.
The Google Future Classroom project wanted to inculcate the following qualities in the children which would help them a long way in future:
One of the most exciting aspects of a digital classroom is the interaction it enables. The content is designed in such a manner that students get an opportunity to pause, question, practice and implement the concepts then and there. This is something that lacks in a conventional education system and I felt the students needed to be exposed to such an environment of learning.
Presentation of the content both by the educators as well as the students is the heart and soul of the e- learning system. In our Google Future Classrooms, we took utmost care to ensure that the whole learning process is as enjoyable as possible for the children. Content in the forms of videos, audio messages, interactive quizzes and tasks that stimulate their creative side were presented to the children. In response the students also showcased their presentation skills honed at classroom through their presentations.
The flexibility that a digital classroom offers is second to none. The instructors and students can be connected to each other without the constraint of being physically present at one place. Also, the students can replay the videos of the classes as an when required which further enhances the experience of learning. This was one of the key requirements for our classrooms as we wanted to provide the students with best of instructors from around the world.
Tracking and Assessment
Every learning module requires a perfect tracking and assessment for successful completion whether it a classroom based or digital based. A student can benefit only when he successfully clears the assessment. The tracking of progress in digital classrooms was set up in such a way that the students would get feedback in real time. This enabled them to efficiently learn and grasp the concepts and rectify their mistakes in a better way.
The Google Future Classrooms that we initiated in the first phase across 12 locations were a great success which provided a great boost to our foundation and a lot to look forward towards phase 2.
“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down and can never score.”
- Bill Copeland
Often we come cross words which stay with us for long and define who we are. For me, these words by Bill Copeland have been a guiding force and in a broader sense helped me in setting up my goals for society.
The vision of Sujana Foundation is clear. For as long as I remember, I wanted to partner with the beneficiaries directly in creating sustainable solutions and achieve the impact through mutually agreed change initiatives. I wanted the beneficiaries of the initiatives that I took to be directly in touch with process and ensure they are at the receiving end of the best of services that the foundation wanted to provide.
To carry on with my objective, I identified the areas where we as a foundation need to work on. Sustainability has always been the keyword for me in whatever endeavour I have undertaken. Hence Education, Healthcare and Entrepreneurship which will not just brighten today, but also shape up tomorrow were taken up as our primary initiatives. Sujana Foundation over the last decade has crafted many initiatives which provided the beneficiaries the access to quality education, better healthcare and opportunities to grow as an entrepreneur.
Education- Google Future Classrooms (GFC)
The goal of initiatives in this area was not just to bring up the literacy rate but to provide access to world class digital education to children. In this digital age, it is extremely crucial for the students to be well versed with the digital trends and technological advancements that are happening at a rapid pace. To provide the best digital education to the students of government schools through Digital Classrooms, Sujana Foundation partnered with Google and named the initiative as Google Future Classrooms. We worked towards providing the children with best resources such as best systems, high quality sound systems and connectivity. The purpose was to make these sessions highly interactive. Hence, the modules were also customised so that the teaching isn’t unidimensional. A lab model was set up where each of the students were provided with ‘Chromebooks’ and high-speed internet for interactive sessions. The purpose of this initiative was simple; provide access to quality and interactive education. It has been reported that students learn and grasp only 40-50% of the concepts if taught in a traditional atmosphere whereas an interactive atmosphere enhances the experience and their grasping capabilities. I wanted the students to imbibe traits like critical thinking and creative approach which would provide them with great foundation for their future.
We identified some government schools where we could set up our Google Future Classrooms which would enable the students to learn by being connected, involved and challenged. Schools in Ponnavaram, Jammavaram, Vellanki, Kanchikacherla, Ibrahimpatnam, Kondapalle, Paritala, Mullapadu, Pendyala, Nandigama, Palaparu and Lingalapadu were selected to carry out the first phase of our education initiative.
The students in these identified government schools were trained with the help of Google Apps for Education (GAfE). The aim was to cater to 6 different learning spaces for students to develop qualities to investigate, create, collaborate, present, develop and interact in them.
In the coming days, Sujana Foundation will be taking this initiative to more schools so that more students can benefit from the interactive education under Google Future Classrooms program. In my view collaboration both at a global level between countries and at an individual level between humans holds the key for sustainable development which is one of the key objectives of our foundation.
Entrepreneurship is a subject that I hold in great regard. An entrepreneur according to me can uplift the whole society and provide great opportunities to everyone around him. The spirit of entrepreneurship was precisely what I wanted to inculcate and that is the reason Sujana Foundation took up the initiative of BEST (Be an Entrepreneur in Science and Technology).
Today, India needs more new enterprises and more innovation. Sustainable growth based on innovation and excellence requires an increasing number of start-ups, which are likely to provide more and better jobs. Cultural aspects need to be specifically taken into account among a score of other factors that influence entrepreneurship.
As was the case with Sujana Foundation’s initiative in the field of eye care and digital education, for developing entrepreneurship as well, we partnered with an industry leader. CSIR -IICT was chosen to be our ally in our quest to inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship among the youth. CSIR-IICT is a premier R & D Institute, which has been established to carry out research in chemical and allied sciences leading to innovative processes for a variety of products. Products such as food, health, energy and environment have been deeply researched on by the organization.
The journey of BEST was laid down in a scientific manner where the budding entrepreneurs would be supported and guided in a manner which would hone their skills to the greatest extent. Initially an awareness campaign was carried out to evoke interest among the candidates. Post this we invited the candidates where they were screened and their aptitude was tested. Once the candidates were shortlisted, training was initiated where they were provided with all necessary support. 60 graduates/ to be graduates in the field of management, science and technology were shortlisted where they were guided by industry experts and mentors for a period of 3 weeks. The selected candidates worked on case studies relevant to the end objective of creating a compelling value proposition through a robust business plan.
So far the results of the initiative have been delightful and I am motivated by the success of the first phase of BEST. This has filled the whole team at foundation with a great enthusiasm and zeal for phase 2.