Help bridge the digital divide in India that is causing millions of children to drop out of school



This article was sponsored by Amazon India.


I I feel like I’m extremely lucky, ”says a young boy named Sathwik, based in Warangal, Telangana. He believes that our lives are not defined by our losses but by the few acts of love and kindness that we encounter.
His observation comes from life experiences that have taught him to never give up, no matter what. He was 9 years old when his parents died. He admits his life would have been very different without his grandparents who adopted and raised him with love and care. Despite financial difficulties, they managed to send him to school.
A smart student studying in Grade 10, Sathwik’s life was taking a positive turn, until the fateful moment his grandfather passed away, pushing the family into emotional turmoil and financial crisis.

But even in these moments of grief and utter helplessness, Sattwicus did not give up hope and continued to do his best in school. Finally, a ray of hope came when the NGO of the Bala Vikas Foundation decided to sponsor Sathwik’s education.

“I remember that every time I passed my exams, my grandmother made me my favorite dish, the dosa, to congratulate and celebrate my success. All I wanted was to do something on my own so that I could make her the happiest in the world, ”he says. This prompted him to work harder and get a college scholarship. But just as things started to improve, life started another curve in its direction – the pandemic.

Offer a future

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With the lockdown in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sathwik was at risk of missing an entire year of college because he could not afford to buy smart devices to take classes online.

He was once again faced with a much greater challenge, this time with 320 million learners in India who were at risk of dropping out of school due to lack of access to e-learning devices.

According to a report from the Ministry of Education, nearly 70% of school children in Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Andhra Pradesh face a crisis due to lack of access to digital devices.
The shift to e-learning platforms, especially after educational institutions closed, has plunged thousands of students like Sathwik into an uncertainty that would have been too difficult to overcome, without the timely help that he received.

For Sathwik, this help came through Amazon India’s Delivering Smiles initiative. He was given a tablet to bridge the digital divide that was preventing him from achieving his dreams.

Sathwik is one of the many students whose lives have been positively impacted by Amazon India’s Delivering Smiles initiative. Deployed in October this year, the program aims to bridge the growing digital divide in the country, through which Amazon will directly donate and facilitate the contribution of digital devices among students and young people from marginalized communities, also contributing to the digitization goals of India.

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Amazon will directly supply 20,000 digital devices to disadvantaged youth, reaching over 100,000 students across India.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the deep digital divide, not only in education but also in access to essential services. Among those most affected are young people from marginalized communities. Working with our customers, employees and partners, we aim to bridge the gap by enabling young people with digital devices to have continuous access to online education and essential services for their families, ”said Manish Tiwary, vice president of Amazon India.

Echoing the joy of giving back

The Delivering Smiles initiative will enable millions of Amazon customers across India to experience the joy of giving and participating in the company’s goal of bridging the prevailing digital divide. Customers can donate cash or donate their old cell phones which will be refurbished and distributed to provide digital learning devices to young people.

While the proceeds from the cash contribution will be used to purchase new devices, data cards and digital accessories for students, old phones will be collected and refurbished by Cashify; Amazon partner in this initiative. Once repaired and refurbished, these phones will then be handed over to Goonj for distribution to those in need and to make an impact on the pitch.

“We all have different ways of connecting with giving. Over the past two decades, Goonj has created simple and easy ways by which anyone can pay society back, make a difference for someone while extending the life of things, which would otherwise end up hurting their lives. our ecology. We hope that this partnership between Goonj and Amazon will continue to reverse the flow of unused material for development work. We also hope this will inspire other businesses and the masses to do the same – to prevent a lot of usable stuff from going to waste, ”Anshu Gupta, Founding Director of Goonj.
The singular objective of this initiative is to provide access to digital devices for disadvantaged students so that they have a better future.

A simple act of kindness holds the power to change lives. The greatest teaching of Sattwicus from these experiences has been just that.

Determined to make his grandmother proud, the BTech sophomore at Vaagdevi College, Warangal, decided to spread the kindness he received, by helping others. In the midst of a raging pandemic, Sathwik volunteered to help people in his village get timely vaccinations against the coronavirus. When the vaccines started going out, he went door-to-door to educate the public about it and help people book vaccine slots.

The young man managed to accomplish so much while receiving a medal for academic excellence. While waiting to complete his college education and start working in the IT industry, Sathwik’s journey today has inspired many in his village to be more and do better.
Donation link – https://amzn.to/3r61uNt


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