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How Project DEFY Empowers Students to Educate Themselves Across India & Africa

27.4.2019 | BY ANSWER NZUMA & ABHIJIT SINHA

Project DEFY (Design Education For Yourself), which was featured in HundrED’s 2019 Global Collection as one of the leading education innovations in the world; is a system of learning that believes anyone can teach themselves anything by using the internet and the community around them to find solutions. The innovation which was first launched in Bangalore, India has now spread to several cities within India and has begun to spread in regions within Africa. 

We reached out to the innovators behind Project DEFY to hear how being in the HundrED 2019 collection has helped them spread their innovation.

 

 

What does it mean for Project DEFY to be recognized as a leading education innovator in the HundrED 2019 Global Collection?


Project DEFY, as the name suggests, is attempting to challenge the very design and imagination of education and education-spaces such as schools in India and many countries of the world that continue to follow the 400-year old factory-model education. This is a difficult prospect where in India, the discussion is far from challenging school models and design, and closer to upgrading and modifying them inch by inch. It is always a struggle to put our voices of dissent and non-conformity in the large discussions of education that happen. Becoming a part of the Hundred Collection and Community has given us the necessary backing and validation from an extraordinary selection of educators and influencers, and has helped us build our voice forward. For us, being part of HundrED is both prestigious and important, so that we may bring more experimentation in education in India and to other countries in the world, where such experimentation has not happened for centuries.  

 

What are your biggest takeaways from the HundrED Innovation Summit?


To us, the HundrED Innovation Summit is a celebration of variety in educational experiments, that put together may form a global education revolution. It is the becoming of a community constituted of changemakers, educators and learners, who are challenging, reforming and recreating education in so many different ways within their own context, and expanding rapidly around the world. And this community is willing to share their experiences and expertise, and get together to build collaborations. 

The Summit is also a reminder that much work remains to be done, many new ideas are yet to be born, many more collaborations are yet to happen, and many communities yet struggle. It is a humbling experience and a gentle reminder of the reasons behind starting our own work with DEFY, and how much remains to be done, despite how far we have come. 

 

How has the HundrED Summit and global recognition helped progress the impact of Project DEFY?


We have been associated with HundrED for over two years now, and in that time we have grown from 4 Nooks to 15 Nooks, impacting over 3000 learners and 11 new communities. We were also able to experiment in creating Nooks within institutional educational bodies such as schools and universities, in an attempt to change the system-design from within. 

It has been evident that being listed on the HundrED website has added tremendous value in creating trust in our young organization when speaking to large donors and companies who would otherwise not support organizations as young as ours. The recognition also creates a distinction for DEFY among a large number of educational non-profits, especially as a non-profit that innovates and creates new ideas. If you are looking for innovation in education in India, then DEFY is definitely on your list, and this is in a big way credited to HundrED. 

 

So, what is next for Project DEFY?


A lot is happening at DEFY. We are starting two Nook Hubs this year, which is essentially a combination of a Nook and a growth office, one each in Rwanda and Zimbabwe. These nodal points shall enable us to create teams in other geographies and allow the concept to be locally customized and spread. P.S If you want us to bring a Hub to your country, please write to us at info@projectdefy.org. In India, we are starting the DARE Fellowship (Design A Revolutionary Education), where DEFY will select 10 passionate young individuals who will set out on a path of self-discovery and becoming revolutionaries through a one-year immersive program. 

Finally, something else that is in its embryonic stages is r.a.g.e (Research on Alternative Global Education) which we hope to launch next year, where we would create a community research center to experiment and answer the many questions that the world of alternative education seeks. We are currently looking for partners for this. And surely more Nooks as well. 


What would you say to innovators who are looking to connect with Hundred? Why should they be part of the global community for change?


JUST DO IT. You can only gain by being a part of a global community of educators and experimenters and ensure that you do not feel alone. Also, you do not have to work alone and so many collaborations are possible. There is so much to learn, so much to give and so much to do together. Why would you miss out?

 


Do you have an exciting innovation changing the way we educate our students, share your work on HundrED Open.

If you want to inspire your local community with global and local innovations, explore the HundrED Ambassadors program with members from over 70 countries.