For combining technology with community action to root out education inequalities
In her first year of high school, Tanya Elizabeth Ken came to a harsh realization: Good—even great—grades usually aren’t enough to launch someone out of poverty in India.
“If you want to solve a problem like equality in education, then we need to solve all the hindrances families are seeing,” she said at PMI’s Virtual Experience Series in September.
Ken is taking a hands-on approach to giving children in underserved communities an equal shot. That starts with getting to the root of the obstacles families face, whether it’s a lack of sustainable income or under-equipped social workers.
It started with her LakshyaShala app that connects students with professionals who can offer career guidance, encouragement and even professional introductions in engineering, IT and medicine. While Ken was still in high school, she was honored as a finalist at the tech competition Technovation and more than 500 students used the app. Since then, LakshyaShala alumni have created their own crop of impact apps, including Arise, which helps underprivileged young moms support their kids in school; Ekta, which connects craftswomen to nongovernmental organizations that can market their products; and Goal Shadowing, which brought together five girls from four countries to address education inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic.
Despite all of the technological advances spurred by the COVID crisis, systems of education remain unbalanced across the globe. “Virtual learning can reach a wider audience, but we need to take into account the people who don’t have the access and resources,” she said.
While she sees progress, there’s still work to be done: “I believe that one good deed can start a ripple of change.”