Accessibility to education has always been hindered by innumerable factors in India especially by the sporadic allocation of educational and infrastructural resources. This inefficient allocation has impeded the development of millions of children. Manish Mathur an alumnus of a government school in Kanwarpada was left appalled to witness a similar lack of infrastructure as they had seen in their childhood even after 14 years.
While schools in cities nowadays were talking about smart classrooms with projectors and A/V equipment, many government schools in rural areas don’t even have desks, lights or blackboards. The reality came in as a shock and to fill this void of inequity he understood that constant endeavours are imperative. A PRAYAS on his part was needed. Thus Prayas innovation, a social innovation enterprise based out of Udaipur was founded in August 2014 was initiated which provided solutions to problems related to energy, education and health through design.
The first product was simple yet an immensely effective educational resource called a “Yelo” bag. The bag is a one stop solution to the problems plaguing a typical student in an unknown government school in some far flung part of the country. This product acts both as a bag and a writing surface and is equipped with an LED light. The yellow coloured bag, a result of 8 months of planning, design and testing is made out of a durable corrugated sheet; the bag is weather resistant and can be used to carry loads of up to 5 kgs. With a simple move the bag’s cover can be folded backwards to convert it to an inclined writing surface complete with a copy holder. The angle of incline of 30-36 degrees is ergonomically suitable for children. The bag is equipped with a built in LED light that can be adjusted and can be charged using a handy solar kit that comes attached. On a single charge it can provide light for up to 6-8 hours. This brilliant idea of providing an LED light not only benefits students but also provides a light source for the entire households, thus affecting many more people in the process.
Prays innovation wants the bag to reach thousands of students and are thus distributing them to the students free of cost through various NGO’s and CSR schemes of numerous companies. Until now these bags have already been distributed to about 2000 students. They also want to involve the government so as to have a wider reach through their flagship scheme Sarv Siksha Abhiyan.
They Yelo bag has received widespread along with numerous awards in its kitty. Madhur is escatic with such feedback. He hopes that others will also come forward with ideas as “It is not possible for everyone to start making products and innovate, but if they have a solution or an idea for a problem, they should share it. Someone else might pick it up on social media or elsewhere and implement it for the better”, he says.
While the power of design to change lives has been often acknowledged, it has not been tapped enough to solve problems at the grassroots level in India. The “Yelo bag” yet again shows the ability of product designers and engineers to inspire change with a well-designed yet simple product. We do hope that ideas like these continue spreading and inspiring us to solve daily problems in the life of common man.
Story by : Priyanshu Mani | Compiled by : Nikhil Sharma
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