Indian-American family working to connect classrooms globally

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Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 6 (PTI) An ambitious global project tobridge the "achievement gap" among students has been launchedby an Indian-American family here by connecting schools inIndia with those in the US using Internet, new methodologiesand cutting-edge technologies.

The aim of the initiative is to help students learn notonly about culture of other countries, but also find solutionsto complex math equations and science problems.

A brainchild of mother-daughter duo of Sonia Boveja andNaina, co-founders of Washington-based Coalition forInternational Initiatives (CII), the pilot project launchedrecently connects eight American schools in Pennsylvania withthree Indian schools in Gwalior, Ahmadabad and Ludhiana.

"We want to promote cultural awareness, globalcitizenship and academic excellence. So we want the studentsto share with each other academic things, their sports andtheir history. We are hoping that we can also have mathematicsand science to be part of it," Naina said.

"Collaborative learning has become our first project. Wewant to bridge the achievement gap with new methodologies andcutting edge technology," she said.

Bovejas were recently in India touring the country aspart of their efforts to identify schools for this ambitiousproject.

"The idea is that classrooms from India and classroomsfrom the US will be connected with each other through theportal," said Naina, who along with Sonia founded the CII lastyear with the goal of working in the spheres of education, artand environment.

"The inspiration for the Coalition came after seeing theabundant contrast of wealth and poverty in India; it becameclear that we needed to do something to help. We decidededucation would be the best place to start, because educationleads to a better life," Naina said.

To start with once a week, Naina said the teacher wouldlog on to the secure portal where the students can upload thereal pictures, hard facts and documents to the site and thenthe partner schools in India can check the website and seewhat the students have done in America.

"The idea is that classrooms from India and classroomsfrom the US will be connected with each other through theportal," she said.

As the pilot project moves to the next round, Nainasaid, CII would be expanding this to other schools. "Our goalis to connect classrooms all over the world," she said. PTILKJ AKJ GSN

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