We hear a lot of stories about how farmers feel helpless and are burdened with crushing debt without a way in sight. As part of a family with a long history in farming, I have always believed farmers are very important for the planet and play a vital role in society. I was moved by the many stories of the farmers’ struggles that I saw in the news and heard from friends and family..
When discussing with locals, I was surprised at their lack of knowledge on fundamentals like crop storage, understanding the impact of high interest rates, soil fertility etc. I realized that even a little education on the fundamentals of math and science could help them in many ways. Upon further deliberation, I felt for long term change, we should focus on the children and empower them with the knowledge needed to become effective farmers. They in turn could educate their parents, and apply business and science concepts to implement changes that would result in a more successful and profitable business..
Coming to the United States, I was exposed to the teaching techniques here and saw examples where theoretical learning had practical applications. I realized the power of hands-on learning. The emphasis on learning concepts and their practical applications makes learning fun and excites the imagination.
I set out to find the benefits of experiential learning and realized I was not only able to understand better but I was able to retain the concepts longer. This was the beginning of our innovative Janyaa Lab In a Box (JLIB)! When Janyaa started in 2009, we focused on secondary education with students in the 6-10th grades. We started designing experiments for curriculum based concepts with “relevance to daily life” using Design Thinking principles. For example, Ratio is taught with different types of flowers in a garland.
Now comes the most distinct and integral part of our program – the application of Science and Math concepts to daily life. I always believed that this is important and it puts a child’s education to good use. So we developed a unique model that encourages students to apply the skills and concepts they have learned through Janyaa Lab in a Box into their daily life.
Every year we conduct the Janyaa Social Innovation Challenge (JSIC), where we ask students to apply the concepts they have learned and utilize their enhanced creative skills. We encourage children to think about the societal problems they witness daily and to create solutions & models that could solve them.
Winning entries are implemented in the respective schools through Janyaa Chidren2Community Solutions (JCCS) initiative with support from corporate sponsors. We can see how the students are more confident and empowered when they experience how their solutions are benefiting their schools. They start believing they can solve any problem that comes their way. That is a proud moment for schools and parents as they see the impact their children are making with Janyaa’s support. And it is also a great satisfactory moment for me and Janyaa.
We have numerous success stories documented on our blog http://janyaa.org/blog/.
We have worked with around 920 schools and 500,000 students so far. We trained around 14,000 teachers. Our goal is to impact at least a million children by 2025. Our success is what motivates us to go above and beyond to work with children.