Integrating affordable technology with education

Greater Kashmir

The Pi Jam Foundation, a for-impact, not-for-profit, award winning organization that aims to integrate affordable technology with education for school students, celebrated the launch of its program in Jammu and Kashmir. Pi Jam has been tirelessly working in the field of digital education and literacy, even in remote areas and low-income schools to make the present generation future-ready and technologically competent. In Kashmir particularly, the role of organizations like Pi Jam becomes even more important as it lags behind other states of India in the fields of Computer Education and Digital Skills.

The launch event was attended by more than 300 participants across Zoom and FB Live, with the diverse audience including academicians, lawyers, student scholars, IT professionals, media practitioners from across India, along with students and teachers from schools and universities in Kashmir and Pune.

The Pi Jam Team is led by Mr Omar Hafiz, a renowned social development practitioner and Global Goodwill Ambassador. Possessing an exemplary record of more than a decade of peace-building through education, youth capacitation and experiential workshops across the country, he stressed on the need for promoting digital literacy, coding, critical thinking and problem solving to be introduced at school level, to help children adapt to modern professional challenges through a hands-on STEM approach.

Mr Omar said, “A lot of times, it’s a challenge to equip schools with low cost technology and update the curriculum as per modern day requirements.  Pi Jam Foundation plans to provide quality computer education to more than 1 lakh students across the rest of India and bridge the gap between the educational curriculum and the demands of the current digital workforce.”

Mr Shoaib Dar, Founder and former Teach For India Fellow elaborated on the vision and mission of Pi Jam, concentrating on its key focus areas and the reason it was started in Kashmir.

He said, “Kashmir is not immune to penetration of technology in the job force. Technical skills are very important as are practical skills such as problem solving, and application of knowledge that we acquire in schools. Unfortunately, some schools in Kashmir don’t even have functional computer labs, necessary to prepare their children for future uncertainties. It is essential to combine problem solving with digital skills. That is the vision for Pi Jam and for Kashmir to prepare the children of the Valley for the future.”

For Pi Jam that already has its wings spread across more than 50 schools for above 15,500 kids in Maharashtra, Telangana and Kashmir, and earlier branches in Pune and Hyderabad, this is yet another feather in its digitally shining cap. Now 2 months since its inception in Kashmir, Pi Jam has already reached out to more than 300 students across 5 districts of Kashmir both in an online and an offline mode. The goal of Pi Jam is to transform 50 Government and APS schools here into innovative spaces and capacitate more than 100 Maths & Science Teachers in the existing school system and empowering children to use technology as innovators and budding entrepreneurs through experiential workshops, Pi Labs, allowing students to explore, tinker and create through a grade specific curriculum and teacher-parent training. Pi Jam also aims to advocate the use of a progressive Computer Science  curriculum by the State Education Department.

In Kashmir, the average access to computers is 10 for 250-300 students in the Government and APS schools, with digital skills being limited to spreadsheets and word processors. Outdated skills and a lack of preparedness amongst students and teachers results in them falling short of the required skills needed in the technology-powered 21st century workspace. Pi Jam’s solution to the problem involves integrating the right tools within an optimized learning environment.

Mr Omar emphasized how a systematic approach was important to solve problems, using creativity, critical thinking  and design innovation, especially in the 21st century world. He announced future plans to expand Pi Jam in all the 10 districts of Kashmir as well as Jammu and Ladakh territories.