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National social Entrepreneurship meet

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Jamshedpur, Jan 30: The 8th National Conference on Social Entrepreneurship organised under the aegis of Fr Arrupe Centre for Ecology and Sustainability and SIGMA-oikos as part of XLRI’s mission to promote management education with a social conscience and to propagate dialogue on social development commenced its 2nd day today with a thought provoking discussion.

A panel discussion involving four of India’s foremost organizations in the sector of social education was the highlight of the morning session. The panelists included Ajith Basu, chief program executive, Agastya International, Lisa Heydlauff, founder and director, Going to School, Pankaj Jain, Gyan Shala, and Venkat from E- Vidyaloka. Prof. Sharad Sarin of XLRI was the moderator of the panel discussion.

The audience was introduced to four different organizations, all having different models aimed towards the same goal: “Educating and empowering rural India.” They were taken through the various models. First to speak was Ajith Basu. He talked about his foundation, Agastya, and how it believes in the holistic development of children and focuses on art and dance apart from math and science.

It has 46 centers and 245 night schools across India. He also talked about Anveshana, an innovation fair unique to Agastya conducted in Bangalore and Hyderabad. He mentioned how the children from Agastya are among the top 1-2% in India.

Next to speak was Lisa Heydlauff. She talked about how India fosters a collective spirit that permeates throughout the society, unlike the individualistic pattern followed in Western countries. Her innovative use of visual media like comics, videos and TV shows to relay real life problems and how to combat them has earned plaudits throughout. According to her, one should take initiative as an individual but be part of a collective solution.

Pankaj Jain of Gyan Shal, an organization that started with 10 classes and 300 children, was the 3rd speaker. The organization has blossomed into a behemoth spread across nine states and is involved with over 44,000 children. It is currently involved with Bihar Government in improving the quality of 7,300 public schools.

The final speaker of the day was Venkat from eVidyaloka. Venkat joined eVidyaloka in 2011 and hasn’t looked back since. He talked about how the previous decade was about creating awareness about importance of education and increasing enrollment and how this decade was about digitizing education.

The aim of eVidyaloka was to act as a bridge between technology and education and facilitate remote location learning. He talked about their model which involved getting in touch with volunteers, contacting local sponsors, aligning with the government and finally using technology as an enabler.

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