Educationist Expands Digital Tutoring Services in India Amidst Pandemic

The Educationist team comprises of Co-founders Aaditya Ganesan '23 and Nikhil Devaraj '23, President Brian Jeon '23, and McNeil High School student and Vice President Aniruddh Mishra '23. The organization focuses on providing accessible tutoring to children in India. Photo courtesy of Aniruddh Mishra.

Photo By Aniruddh Mishra

The Educationist team comprises of Co-founders Aaditya Ganesan ’23 and Nikhil Devaraj ’23, President Brian Jeon ’23, and McNeil High School student and Vice President Aniruddh Mishra ’23. The organization focuses on providing accessible tutoring to children in India. Photo courtesy of Aniruddh Mishra.

By Triambika Dinakaran, Reporter

With the upheaval of traditional, in-person education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students all around the world are faced with a newfound lack of educational resources to facilitate their learning in a digital and isolated environment. Educationist, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit tutoring organization founded by Aaditya Ganesan ‘23 and Nikhil Devaraj ‘23, has been actively working to combat this crisis over the past year in India, where the education sector is heavily privatized. 

“We got the idea around last May when the COVID-19 pandemic took off and learning became asynchronous,” Ganesan said. “Specifically in the context of RRISD, we noticed that the educational models we were using were not that great. We imagined what it would’ve been like for other countries impacted by the coronavirus. It seems very contextual to the coronavirus, but we realized that the commodification of education has been a problem around the world for a while now, especially in countries like India, where there’s a massive emphasis on rote learning and private tutoring. So [the pandemic] was the wake up call we needed to facilitate good online learning services.” 

The Educationist team, which comprises nine Westwood sophomores, one McNeil sophomore, and one student from Pearson Ranch Middle School, planned to utilize volunteers from the United States and India to provide free tutoring service to underprivileged children in India. In order to do so, they partnered with Sevalaya, a non-profit organization based in the southern state of Tamilnadu. One of Educationist’s notable achievements at the time was organizing a fundraiser to supply students with internet access and digital devices for online learning. They also partnered with Nanritam, an NGO based in West Bengal, to provide tutoring to students in rural North India as well. In addition to working with nonprofits, Educationist has been sourcing tutors from private schools in Tamilnadu. Recently, they’ve been working on optimizing their website and the registration process.

“Over the past few months, I’ve worked heavily on automating the system,” McNeil High School student and Educationist President Aniruddh Mishra ‘23 said. “Initially, three executives would meet for about five hours every day to discuss advancing the organization. [However], our time commitment has already significantly decreased. For example, we don’t manually create accounts or manage registrations anymore – a bot does that automatically. We don’t manage [tutor-student] matching anymore for the most part, but we’re still working on making that completely automatic.” 

Educationist initially began with core classes like math and English to supplement the Indian school curriculum, and these continue to be their most popular classes to date. Currently, the nonprofit offers tutoring services in math, science, English, philosophy, chess, and coding languages such as Scratch, HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Python. The team is focusing on regional as well as curriculum expansion to cater to the 1,500 Indian students who have signed up to be tutored by over 2,000 tutors from around the world. 

“We started the regional expansion primarily in India,” Mishra said. “Our initial goal was to impact everyone at once, which was admittedly an immature goal to begin with. So we shifted to specific public schools to work with. However, presently we’ve automated our system so that Indian NGOs can register huge bulks of students at once to be matched up with tutors. We have coordinators that reach out to these nonprofits to boost registrations. We have tutors from all over the world – Australia, Germany, New Zealand, the Middle East – but our primary centralization is in India. Another idea we’re working on for curriculum expansion is a Google form allowing you to register to tutor students in your own specialized class that you will get a spot on our website for.” 

Educationist does not follow a standard curriculum for all their subjects. Rather, they use content curators to research Indian curriculums and ensure that each student’s tutoring services are tailored to their specific needs. Content curators utilize Educationist’s resources on CBSE’s (a prevalent Indian board of education) guidelines for each subject in order to create slideshow presentations for tutors to use. 

“We’re mostly using slideshows to teach students at the moment, but we plan on adding assessments so that students can test themselves,” Mishra said. “That type of content will still be free, but people can donate money to help us implement assessments and specialized classes in the future.” 

The Educationist executive team hopes to start Educationist tutoring clubs in several local high schools to source more tutors for their growing global initiative. Those interested in registering as a volunteer for Educationist can apply through the organization’s website.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email