Nikhil Bhagat and Prayag Dhanvij
“Education is the milk of a tigress. Whoever drinks it can’t stay without roaring.” – B.R. Ambedkar
We, the Bahujan people, have faced caste-based discrimination and restrictions for centuries, which have hindered our progress. Lack of education made us vulnerable to being enslaved by so-called upper-caste individuals. Education has played a pivotal role in uplifting our society and achieving emancipation. Today, our people are getting educated, and we are transforming into a robust intellectual community. However, Manuvadis don’t want us to gain knowledge, prosper, and claim our rights. For this, instead of the earlier overt discrimination, they now adulterate the education system. Syllabi are altered, and students are taught futile subjects, leaving them ill-equipped to compete with their peers from metro cities and international education curricula. As a result, government schools have suffered, are no longer on par with other institutions, and many are under-enrolled, especially in Maharashtra. Consequently, parents have little choice but to opt for private schools, which demand hefty fees for so-called quality education. Yet, even after spending significant amounts, children receive subpar education, hindering their growth and creativity.
For the past few years, some of us have been discussing how to respond to these challenges and prepare ourselves for the modern economy. We initiated the ‘Sanghamitra Summer School’ to leverage technology and a compelling syllabus created by youth who have faced similar hurdles. We believe that providing a better education is crucial for the future of our children. Our summer school aimed to expose students to diverse skills in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Maths) and develop soft skills like leadership, stage confidence, and effective communication. Unlike traditional schools that set boundaries on students’ thinking and potential, our program encouraged interactive sessions, enabling students to freely ask questions and explore. We’ve learned a lot while working with students, especially when it comes to creating a syllabus and engaging content that is suitable for them. By paying close attention to how kids learn, we have been able to create effective and enjoyable content that keeps them engaged. We plan to continue building on this initial success in the future.
In India, young people are desperately chasing multiple degrees in the hope of gainful employment only to find that most of these degrees are completely worthless :
Anil Swarup, a former secretary for school education, estimated in a 2018 article that of the 16,000 colleges handing out bachelor’s qualifications for teachers, a large number existed only in name. “Calling such so-called degrees as being worthless would be by far an understatement,” said Anil Sadgopal, a former dean of education at Delhi University and a former member of the Central Advisory Board of Education, which guides the federal government. “When millions of young people are rendered unemployable every year, the entire society becomes unstable.”
As another example, consider the biotech sector, which is one of the most important and emerging fields. Operations in this cutting-edge sector require unskilled, skilled, and highly skilled labour. However, India has a dearth of skilled labour . In our country, ample numbers of students are graduating, but they are not skilled or underskilled, which is one of the reasons for the high unemployment rate in India. While this is a problem faced across the globe, with a recent survey conducted in the United States reporting that only 41% of graduates said their college program taught them skills needed for their first job , it is quite severe in India. As usual, the Bahujans bear the brunt of it.
In our Summer School, we sought to address these problems by providing cutting-edge content to our students. We catered to students of different ages, focusing on essential English, mathematics, and computer skills foundational for emerging fields like Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Robotics, Biotechnology, Internet of Things (IoT), and more. We used real-life examples and videos to facilitate quick learning. Additionally, we emphasized creating a language-friendly environment and helping students learn through immersion. Computers and related tools played a central role in our sessions. We taught students to effectively use tools like Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Canva, and ChatGPT, along with basic programming. Many students displayed keen interest and enthusiasm in these areas.
In addition to fostering essential English and math skills, our ‘Sanghamitra Summer School’ also aimed to expose students to various specialized fields critical in today’s technological era. Graphic Design and Branding, Digital Art and Animation, Video Game Design and Development, Film and Media, Data Visualization, street and urban arts, and many other cutting-edge disciplines were introduced to ignite their curiosity and passion for creativity and innovation.
We firmly believe that a well-rounded education must encompass these emerging fields to prepare our students for the future. By introducing them to graphic design and digital art, we provided avenues for artistic expression and creativity in the digital realm. Animation allowed them to explore the world of moving images and storytelling, while video game design and development tapped into their interests in interactive entertainment and technology. Film and media exposed them to the power of visual storytelling, and data visualization equipped them with the skills to effectively present and analyze information.
Overall, our summer camp was a resounding success, and we take pride in equipping our students with essential life skills to succeed. As organizers, we understand the vital role we can play in providing a well-rounded education for our students, and we remain committed to offering innovative and engaging learning experiences that empower them to reach their full potential.
Sanghamitra Schools organizing team: Nikhil Bhagat, Prayag Dhanvij, Prashik Dhanvij, Apeksha Garse, Rani Patil, Sushil Patil, Sundeep Pattem, Vaibhav Selkar, Mayur Shevale, Siddhant Shende, Subodh Shambharkar, Komal Wankhede, Kapil Wankhede, Shrushti Yesankar.
 Bibhudatta Pradhan and Vrishti Beniwal. Worthless Degrees Are Creating an Unemployable Generation in India. Bloomberg. 18 April, 2023. Available at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-04-17/india-s-worthless-college-degrees-undercut-world-s-fastest-growing-major-economy
 Shambhavi Naik. Re-energising India’s Biotech Ecosystem. Takshashila Blue Paper. July 2022. Available at: https://takshashila.org.in/research/takshashila-blue-paper-re-energising-indias-biotech-ecosystem
 Cengage Group 2023 Graduate Employability Report. July 2023. Available at: https://cengage.widen.net/s/nvd6ghd8vl/final-cg-employability-survey-report-july2023
Nikhil Bhagat is a social organizer and entrepreneur with a wide range of interests spanning public policy, education, and healthcare. He is currently a Business Manager at the Sanghamitra Business Incubator, and also doubles up as a Skills Training Manager.
Prayag Dhanvij has a passion for mechatronics, and aspires to establish a laboratory dedicated to marginalized communities, aiming to ignite curiosity and interest in the field. He currently leads Engineering R&D at the Sanghamitra Business Incubator, and holds a B. Tech degree in Mechanical Engineering.