Why this Class XI student built a free AI platform for students in rural India to access the best global study resources

Anushka Prakash tells us how she built Project Prakash so that every student has equal access to education and why STEM education is important for girls

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused all of us to be confined to our homes, bringing the routine of going to school every day to a standstill. However, I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity and resources to continue with my education online. This made me realise that this pandemic has barred so many students out there in rural India from continuing with their education. With schools being shut, there is no avenue for them to discover what they are truly passionate about, as their schools cannot provide for their education online.  

Education for all

This is what motivated me to build Project Prakash. Project Prakash is an online platform, built using HTML code, which aims at helping young teenagers follow and pursue their passions and dreams. It contains free resources from the internet ranging across various subjects and includes interest pages with free online lectures, career advice, and classes from major universities like Stanford. 

Many students don’t even know the career possibilities that exist for them, as their exposure has been limited. 

It also includes an online live chat-bot that collects information regarding their interests and hobbies and returns to the information about what they can do to further excel in their goals. The dashboard also contains videos from experienced professors talking about career options related to their respective fields. The platform is available in both Hindi and English, and is also compatible with all mobile devices, making it more accessible to rural India. 

My goal is to help students in rural India look ahead and plan their future. The internet has so many free educational platforms that most students have never heard of. Hopefully, through this platform, I will help teens out there figure out their passions and provide them with all the information and resources they need to excel in their fields of interest.

Currently, the platform has over 2,000 users, and I have partnered with foundations like the Chopra Foundation who have actively been spreading it in villages across India. I look forward to getting vaccinated so I can actually travel to these villages and see the impact it is causing.

The world is advancing every day, with more and more people getting affiliated with the use of technology in their day-to-day lives. I strongly feel that people who are privileged enough to be educated in these fields should start using this technology for the greater good so it can impact and help so many people, especially the youth. 

The importance of education

Education can transform lives, and it's disheartening to learn that it isn’t accessible to everyone. There are so many capable students out there who just need the right resources and mentors to help kickstart their careers. In many rural areas, education is seen as a waste of time as it doesn’t enable a person to acquire job opportunities as fast as a vocational skill would. They are therefore made to do the same work their fathers or grandfathers would do. Because of this, many students out there don’t even know the career possibilities that exist for them, as their exposure has been limited. 

Project Prakash is an interactive AI platform that is available on all mobile platforms in Hindi and English

In rural areas, girls are made to work in their homes or engage in labour from a very young age. By restricting them from pursuing the education they should be receiving, they are missing out on the hundreds of other fields in which they would be extremely successful.

Women are still highly underrepresented in STEM, and make up only 28 percent of the workforce. Jobs like computer science and engineering are some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs of the future, and it is only right to give women an opportunity to be a part of these fields.

There is great potential amongst these young girls, which can only be realised with the help of proper mentorship and accessible education. I hope that one day Project Prakash benefits aspirational students across the country, and that other young teenagers like me are also inspired to use technology to help democratise education in rural India.

Anushka Prakash, who built Project Prakash is a 17-year-old student at Welhams Girls School in Dehradun

Edited by Diya Koshy George