Story-telling contest to promote rural education

To promote rural education and bring about a more effective communicative platform to enable children to take up education seriously, SMSONE and Seeds of Empowerment, in association with XRI Global, an organisation set up by the Stanford University, had organised a global story telling competition for children in rural areas across the state.

"The basic idea behind the competition was to have an effective communication with the rural audiences in the state," said Neha Taleja executive director of Seeds of Empowerment and XRI Global. "We want to use mobile phones to bring forth an education revolution. The reason being that mobile phones have penetrated deep into the rural areas. The technological advantage can be utilised to not only bring forth unique concepts to the people there, but also to promote education," Taleja said.

Over 17,000 SMSs were sent out to families divided into 13 communities. "The programme, which began on November 4, initially saw only 94 entries in the first eight days. Later, our community leaders went to people personally and explained the concept to them. Eventually, we received a total 1,620 entries," says Ravi Ghate Director of SMSONE.

The top three entries won 100, 75 and 50 dollars respectively. "Money was never a criteria to get the children to participate, because through the pilot competition we have learnt that children across the state have a wide range of emotions that they keep bottled up ," said Anu Kulkarni, regional director of Seeds of Empowerment.

Said Dilip Phaltankar, chief of the panel of judges, "The top three entries came from Nandurbar, Kolhapur and Beed and they highlighted issues like the passing away of one's mother to farmer suicides. "

While the organisers aim to spread the competition across the nation, Taleja said, "The winning entries will be converted to PDF and E-book formats and will be sold across the world. The proceeds would come back to the writers thus encouraging them to study further and establish a better lifestyle for themselves," said Taleja.

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