Paz Vega



Living in a modern country gives us access to state of the art education, dozens of opportunities, and a fast internet connection that unites us with people from different corners of the world. If we wish, we can educate ourselves, and grow as individuals in our own way.

We only need a smart device like a laptop, a tablet or a new generation phone, and with perseverance, we can set our minds to achieving anything that we desire.   

Sadly, not all people are as lucky as we are. While we prosper from the nectar of the internet, people from third world countries are still living in huts, and often throw their garbage outside of their window. This was confirmed by a friend of mine that recently went to Africa, and looked firsthand, at how these things took place.

Imagine living in poverty, inside a house with dirt walls, where the door is nothing but an old piece of cloth, and the table is just a small log that holds a bunch of dirty plates. You can’t learn anything, you have no access to the world’s news, and most times, you get violent and you end up hurting the nearest person that is quite dear to you.

In this situation, you might as well throw your trash out the nearby window, since you don’t care anymore about what might happen to you. Due to the circumstances that actually seems like the appropriate thing to do.   

But people from around the world have united to help these poorly developed countries. They want them to change into something better. Anyone who is willing to help, will bring them food, knowledge, and a first world experience that will surely help them on the long run.

A large amount of kind and beautiful volunteers are currently helping a lot of children read, write and take care of themselves.

Sugata Mitra is one of them, but he decided to take a more indirect approach into developing the minds of countless of children from these poor countries. It all started in 1999, when Sugata took a Personal Computer, and placed it inside a wall, near an urban slum from New Delhi. As a Educational researcher, he didn’t expect to see what happened next. He added a camera in one corner of the wall, and looked carefully to see how people will act with the newly place computer in the heart of their community. .

At first, he noticed that a lot of curios children gathered around the device. Slowly, they started to play on the computer, learning new things, that they’ve never encountered before. Using the PC was one of them. Most of the children didn’t even go to school, or had a proper education, so this was something unknown and untouched by them. Imagine the happiness they’ve all felt when they saw this gift.  

When you live in a slum, you don’t have to luxury of owning a Smart Device. Mean people that wondered around even expected to see scavenging and destruction, before this experiment even began. But they were proven wrong by the dedicated children.

They thought each other how to read, write, navigate the web, turn to Google for help, and as months passed, they even found their homework online. Since they didn’t had the pleasure of going to school, they only read about things interested them. Art, mathematics, literature, and even game developing were the main topics discussed within the slum. When the experiment was over, Sugata noticed that the children were highly evolved, and even held advanced knowledge of what was going on in the world.   

Mr. Mitra continued his experiment in different corners of his country. He placed these Wall Computers, which he named them the “SOLE” (Self-Organized Learning Environments) in underprivileged villages and gave the local children a task. He usually went to them with a problem, asking “How can I use this computer to find a certain illness and its cause”, and then he simply left.

Again, children gathered around the device and thought themselves the basics of using a computer. With perseverance, they searched for the answer through countless of websites and .pdf files. But Sugata knew that it’s going to take a while, so he left the computer there for two months, until he returned to see if all went well.

He asked the children for the answer to his question, and not only that the children found out about a large number of diseases, but they’ve also learn about how to prevent them, and how to treat illnesses if things got worse.

I have to say that this experiment is something great for this world, and I am pleased to tell you that Sugata Mitra is continuing his experiment worldwide. He went to small villages from Africa,  Asia and even from parts of Europe. He couldn’t believe how fast things evolved and how children learned new things, and teach other children about their findings, without the help of modern day teachers.

He even formed a Cloud Base school that can be access from anywhere in the world. This way, everyone can teach themselves what their hearts desire, from reading to writing, to basic and complex mathematics or programming.

The world is changing for the better, and I am glad that Sugata Mitra is one kind man that helps with its development. You can learn more about his work by visiting his blog here.      

I just hope we learn from his actions, and we won’t look at poor people with judgment in our eyes. We should know that they had a rough life, and it takes each and every one of us to show them that we support them unconditionally. To help Sugata Mitra in his quest for the Future of Learning, you can access this page here