Smallfoot, a youth-driven initiative for educating underprivileged children, inaugurated its new social project titled "Smallfoot-Teach through Tech" on August 12, 2017. "Teach through Tech" is a technological education programme that aims to provide children from slums with training on necessary skills based on their passion.
Smallfoot embarked on its eventful journey in 2013. A small group of young university students began this project with the vision to provide disadvantaged children with learning experience they don't usually have access to. Currently, Smallfoot is responsible for the education of 9 kids from the slum area of Janata Housing, Mirpur in Dhaka. Their curriculum-based education is conducted by Time International Academy. The management of Smallfoot is responsible for educating these kids outside the classroom and raising funds to keep up with the expenses.
This year, Smallfoot won a fund of $2,800 from Harpur Edge through the Harpur Fellows Program. The fund has been invested in starting up the 'Teach Through Tech' project. The objective is to help the children gain upward social mobility through computer and internet literacy. With that goal in mind, the 6-month long course has been designed in a manner that allows the kids to help their families after the completion of the course.
There are 20 students enrolled in the programme – aged 8-12, including the 9 children from Smallfoot school. Smallfoot currently has one lab in Mirpur with 10 laptops, with technical assistance from Techynaf. Classes are taken by volunteers from the KL-YES alumni in 2 batches during the weekends. The 2-hour long classes are dedicated to teaching the kids how to use a computer, maintain it, and perform different basic functions like typing, painting, using PowerPoint, searching in Google's Omnibox etc.
A major part of the course is dedicated to teaching the students “functional” English. Anuraddha Antaneel, the course-content developer explained, “Instead of teaching them how to spell out words, our approach is to first teach them how different words sound like. We will then move on to consonant sounds, vowel sounds, one syllable words, two syllable words, joint letters and then middle sounds. The idea of the ESL workshop is to have them be able to listen to a word and try to search the word up themselves. Thus, they not only learn the language, but also know how to bridge their information gap. We will then move on to mathematics, grammar and other conventional subjects to ensure that they get to choose what they want to pursue in the future.”
Smallfoot has also impacted a group of motivated school-going children of Dhaka. Talaat, a volunteer for the programme, elucidated his motivation for the work, “The children are always keen to learn. The excitement that they have when they learn something new is truly inspirational.”
Isbat Ibn Hasnat reminisced the hardships during Smallfoot's initial days and how long they have come. “The key is to never give up,” he said.
Gulshan Jubaed Prince, co-founder of Smallfoot, urged, “For every 2 kids we need 1 volunteer. So, we are actively looking for volunteers to scale up the project. If anyone wants to support Smallfoot, please feel free to contact us.”