Mathematics inspires Rakhi Chawla, her venture in Agra has a lab for the sameSaswati Mukherjee
A software research engineer to a mom to an Edupreneur – this in a nutshell sums up Rakhi Chawla’s journey till date.
It was during the last semester of M.Tech that she got a lucrative job offer at a well-known MNC in Hyderabad and in the next one month, she got engaged to her now-husband Vikash. As he was based in Schlumberger, she decided to pursue her career at Hyderabad and meet during his leaves.
After the birth of her son, Rakhi shifted to Noida, closer to her Agra hometown. She worked there for a year, during which time her husband got posted back to India. “I had two options in front of me. Either to leave everything and travel the world with him or move to my hometown, take a break and enjoy my son’s growing up years. I decided in favour of the second option,” says Rakhi.
She began by being a guest lecturer for Mathematics and Computer Science at the graduation, Engineering and MBA levels.
That is exactly when I realized the poor state-of-art of Education even at this level as a teacher. Students were only concentrating on marks and degrees, without learning anything substantial,
says Rakhi, who decided to do research on the education system. She tried teaching for about two years using different methodologies but says the students were so used to rote learning that the innovative methods just didn’t work for them.
The problem, Rakhi realized, was at the primary and secondary levels (till Std 8). The moment the student starts going to Std IX, parents, schools, coaching centres all seem to take note at once. “Coupled with that is tremendous peer pressure, sky-high expectations, entrance examinations and the sheer pressure to get into premier institutes,” says edupreneur Rakhi who realized that they need smart teachers, smart methodologies and smart minds to learn and adapt to the system.
Thus she turned entrepreneur with Ed3D in her hometown Agra, of which she is the Founder and CEO.
Her venture is an attempt to familiarize students of higher classes with the basic concepts of each of the ‘difficult’ subjects. Ed3D essentially consists of three labs, one each for Mathematics and Logic, Computers and Science.Rakhi managed to create a beginner’s level introduction programme for Mathematics based on visual, tactile and experimental methods. By the end of 2013, she had a course structure ready for kids aged 5-13. Rakhi’s only thought was her son so she went about creating a system in which she would want him to learn, explore, research, experiment, fail and succeed.
A Mathematics-lover, Rakhi dedicated herself to the subject
Rakhi completed her BSc and MSc in Mathematics and Computers from Agra. It was during her college days that she got selected for MTTS (Mathematics Training and Talent Search Program) held at IIT Mumbai conducted by Mumbai University. It was a month long course, attended by all bright minds of India pursuing graduation in Mathematics.
“That was my first step out of the city, alone. I still remember how my mother cried to let me go all on my own. But that truly was the turning point in my life, which drew me to Mathematics,” says Rakhi. After that she moved to IIT Kanpur for a Research Project. She then did M.Tech and started preparing for the GATE entrance examination. Thanks to a dearth in quality subject matter available online or even coaching centres, Rakhi prepared for the examination all by herself. To her surprise, she secured an All India Rank of 66.
The USP of Ed3D
The most innovative aspect of this venture is the grouping together of children not by grades or age but by learning capability, aptitude and interest.
Every child has different capabilities and to expect all of them to grasp a subject in the same way is unrealistic. We have designed an entrance test to check a child’s basic IQ level & mathematical reasoning, as per his class level. To our surprise in 2 years, and around 50 tests conducted, we could only get 4% clearing tests of their class level. The average marks scored was 3.5.
So they keep going one level down till the student is able to clear that mark confidently. Only then they start working on fundamentals. “This repairing and mending process is time consuming, but the outcome is amazing,” she says. They have recently started with Flipped Classroom culture too, where students watch their assigned videos, which in turn encourages more thinking, discussing and problem-solving in class.
Challenges and support
The most challenging part of this whole journey for Rakhi has been to convince parents to try out these new methods.
Ed3D also introduced Coding to the city students.
“Though my parents were initially a little sceptical about my switch from a lucrative job to an obscure education venture, they have never withdrawn support. My in-laws, despite living in a far off city, haven’t complained of my busy schedules, at times even 20 hours of non-stop work. Above all it is my six-year-old son who understands me completely and makes every moment spent with him priceless,” Rakhi says with a smile. Her husband and her team at Ed3D too, have been a great support all along.