The Optimist Citizen

This learning space in Bhubhaneshwar is teaching students modern tech and internet in their local dialect

Tod Phod Aur Jod learning centre in Bhubhaneshwar is helping school students in remote areas to learn science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (also called STEAM subjects) in their vernacular language from a very young age. It’s also enabling the youth to upskill themselves and increase their chance of employability.

Tod Phod Aur Jod

India has over 6,50,000 villages that inhabit around 3 million people. The illiteracy rate among them is more than 25-30% and digital literacy is almost non – existent. 94% of rural youth in India are unemployable because they were never exposed enough to tech and the internet. Access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (collectively referred to as STEAM) has been a far-fetched dream for rural and tribal communities. And to add to that, there has been less infrastructural intervention to facilitate any such learning either. Even if it exists in a suburb closeby, it is in a language they don’t’ understand – English.

Anil Pradhan and Vaishali Sharma are on a mission to solve this exact problem through their brain-child ‘Tod Phod Aur Jod’.

‘Tod Phod Aur Jod’ is a maker space that empowers rural youths by up-skilling them in modern technologies, machines and S.T.E.A.M through content in their local dialect. The centre helps people and rural enterprises develop a solution without going to an urban place. sage of welding machines, carpentry, 3D Printing, CNC and Laser cutting are primarily taught to skill and employ the youths. The centre gives them hands-on experience of product-prototyping. Making the space conducive for creating localised solutions.

Bunch of youngsters meet up at the Center in Bhubhaneshwar to solve local pressing issues. From fixing small farming equipment to completely designing a new one – everything is done here. The duo has started a student’s team of 50 members selected from a pool of 800+ students from across Odisha. These students are mentored by the Centre for both national and international competitions. In fact, one of their team has been selected by NASA to represent India in the NASA Human Rover Challenge 2021 at Huntsville, Alabama. 

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Another compelling success story that came through their initiative was that of a 19-year-old girl Rina Bagha from Boudh district. Rina lives in a rented house at Bhubhaneshwar and is pursuing her intermediate in the Arts stream. Her parents are daily labourers. They had no jobs during the first phase of the lockdown. The pandemic pushed her family to poverty, the prolonged lockdown added to the misery. They couldn’t even send her any money to bring her back to the village. So, she stayed back in Bhubhaneshwar. Eventually, every single penny drained out of her purse. It was then that she decided to step out of the house in search of a job. In between this hustle of finding a job she got in touch with the organisation. At the centre, Rina started to learn welding and other skills needed for metal fabrication. Her skills have a gone a notch higher with the training as she is now welding frames of a lunar rover. Coming from a background of lesser privileges, Rina has made the most of this chance to be the part of the first U-19 team from India to be selected by NASA.

Tod Jod Aur Phod

“From villages where a girl child was not given importance or was not sent to schools, where they were not allowed to do ‘men-like’ jobs, we are proud to say that we have enrolled 60% girl students in our centres,” says Vaishali as she beams with pride.

  The project is a flagship programme of Navonmesh Prasar Foundation. Apart from Tod Phod Aur Jod Center, we have labs namely – Kabad se Jugad (lab dedicated in bringing solutions to tackle the climate change) and Zor Ka Jhatka (lab dedicated to teach students and youths about electronics and robotics). Through their centres,  they have impacted 15000+ students including both schoolgoing students and drop-outs. Also, the project has impacted 2198 young people directly.

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Tod Phod aur Jod was acknowledged with the Impact Prize in the Rural & Inclusive Innovation at the 3M YICA awards. They are elated by winning this prestigious award as it brings their work to the limelight, and getting validated from a platform like this, enhances their confidence. “The award validated our efforts of bringing the change in rural communities. The award has brought confidence among our team members and motivated us to do even better.” Anil mentions. They are in the process of building new innovation school at Kamakhyanagar, Dhenkanal. It is a remote place in Odisha. The land has been purchased but he further process got delayed due to COVID-19. But now, they will be starting off with the construction phase. The award and recognition will ensure corporates and other organizations to work with us and help us further the impact we wish to create.

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