A month ago, in a conversation with YourStory, Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog said, “If we are looking at close to nine percent economic growth it is important to change mindsets.” To that end, the Atal Innovation Mission was set to create and propagate an entrepreneurial mindset in the country.
Today, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) invited applications for ‘Mentor India.’ The idea of Atal Innovation Mission is to bring about this change in mindsets in schools by exposing students to innovation—the result that Kant wants to see is “innovation for India, in India”.
Mentor India will work as a strategic, nation-building initiative, where leaders can help guide and mentor school students in over 900 Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) that have been established by Atal Innovation Mission in schools across the country.
Kant had said that with Atal Tinkering Labs, NITI Aayog wants to ensure that the idea to build and create something arises from a younger age and right from school. While, currently, the number of schools it has tied up with is over 900, the team aims to reach at least 2,000 schools by the end of the year.
ATLs are dedicated works spaces where students (from Class XI to XII) learn innovation skills and develop ideas that will go on to transform India. The labs are powered to acquaint students with state-of-the-art equipment such as 3D printers, robotics & electronics development tools, Internet of Things (IoT) and sensors.
“In India, it is becoming important and imperative to create a mindset that works towards making things from scratch. In the West, people have already, and are building drones and manufacturing setups and units. With the Atal Tinkering Labs, we want to ensure that the idea to build something arises from a younger age and right in schools.”
With more schools being added, it is important that students get the right kind of training and mentorship. Through ‘Mentor India’, AIM is looking to engage leaders, from different walks and industry backgrounds, to dedicate close to two hours every week in one or more Tinkering Labs.
The aim is to enable school students to experience, learn and practice future skills, such as design and computational thinking. Envisaged to be the largest formal volunteer mentor network, it is aimed at maximising the impact of ATLs.
A press note from NITI Aayog states that Mentor India has already received strong support from Corporate India. More than 30 of India’s top thought leaders have signed up as brand ambassadors for the initiative.
Possible areas of contribution from mentors include technical know-how, innovation and design, providing inspiration, and business and entrepreneurship. The aim is to get mentors to discuss with students the various problems our society is facing across multiple themes and to motivate them to develop solutions to these community problems.
AIM is actively looking to engage with more corporations/institutions to adopt ATLs and enable their employees to join Mentor India as volunteers. Furthermore, AIM has signed an SoI with AICTE to provide mentorship support of affiliated colleges for 366 ATLs.
The Mentor India programme will be further extended to provide support to Atal Incubation Centres and existing incubation centres as well. The mentors will receive a digital certificate of recognition, honour board for top mentors, meet and greet with prominent dignitaries and invites to Government of India events.
The main aim of the Tinkering Labs is to ensure that students and children learn the joy of experimentation and learning. Also, with their incubation centres, the team will provide mentorship and funding grants to students, young entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Niti Aayog and its CEO believe that by creating an entrepreneurial mindset and bringing a shift towards creating jobs, everyone in the country thinks differently and looks at building something that will help the nation at large grow. Kant believes that with more entrepreneurs mentoring students, there will be a stronger ecosystem that builds efficient startups.
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