Prodea Strives to Promote Lifelong Learning

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On September 25th 2015, 150 world leaders adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. For the goals to be reached, the organization recommends that everyone needs to their part: governments, the private sector, civil society, and everyday people. Through Project DRUV, Prodea strives to improve Quality Education (Goal #4).

Obtaining a quality education is the foundation to improving people’s lives and sustainable development. DRUV (meaning North Star) is an all new community development program that serves to use innovative technology to help transform the lives of rural and remote populations in India. The project has been launched in Rajasthan, India and will be expanded to other states in the country soon. DRUV is about internet connectivity and its mission aims to create accessibility to affordable and informative content by bringing digital connectivity to television screens with a view to make a difference to the quality of life of the underprivileged and underserved populations. The access to curated digital content does not require a browser. There is no need to use keyboards that are confusing for people with low literacy levels and low digital literacy levels. Using a simple TV like remote for interface significantly reduces the barrier of literacy levels required for accessing digital knowledge. A set top box that communicates to the internet over a dongle or Wi-Fi and connected to the TV converts it to a convenient access point for digital knowledge by enabling information and transaction. Project DRUV is an initiative of Tata Trusts in association with Prodea Systems.

This progressive partnership combines the philanthropic and entrepreneurial vision of Tata Trusts to Prodea’s technological expertise along with Digital India initiatives to target Rajasthan’s technologically deprived communities. The partnership will address some of the prevalent challenges that rural communities in developing countries face, namely:

  • Highly distributed populations with very limited access to technology
  • Very high illiteracy rates which make traditional written communications impossible
  • Lack of awareness of entitlements of government benefits by a majority of people who are in need of it, due to high illiteracy rates and limited or no access to information
  • Low smart phone penetration with access typically with the male of the household, providing no benefit to women and children

Additional services and solutions provided by the partnership include:

  • Broadcasting and education on natural disasters or contagious disease outbreaks.
  • Financial inclusion
  • Family planning information
  • Education initiatives from Kindergarten to Grade 10
  • A distribution channel for other social programs

“It t is an honor to partner with one of the most trusted and respected organizations in India – Tata Trusts. Together we are going to empower people to elevate themselves from poverty to prosperity through education and knowledge,” said Anousheh Ansari, CEO of Prodea. “We have created an entirely new model of community development that, until now, did not exist.  We are proud to be able to contribute to a tangible demonstration of how technology can transform the lives of even the most remote populations. While we have seen progress in the availability of the internet – many underprivileged populations cannot benefit from the connectivity because of the digital divide observed in these types of communities. We are proud to be able to provide a first ever implementation of a concrete and demonstrable solution to the digital gap that is keeping 4.5 billion people offline.”— Anousheh Ansari CEO and Co-Founder, Prodea Services, Inc.

Currently, 103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 percent of them are women. Through Prodea’s partnership with DRUV we are bridging the digital divide by delivering on-demand educational content through television. By 2030 we hope to contribute the UN’s educational goals:

  • By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university
  • By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship
  • By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy
  • By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development
  • Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all
  • By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programs, in developed countries and other developing countries
  • By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states

Our desire to take action and be a part of the solution truly drives our company. In the words of the United Nations, “Change starts with you. Seriously. Every human on earth—even the most indifferent person among us—is part of the solution.”