If you’re reading this article, you’re probably someone lucky enough to take internet access for granted. When you’re living in a big city, you don’t have to wonder if Wi-Fi will be available, or if there will be a signal for your smartphone. If

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably someone lucky enough to take internet access for granted. When you’re living in a big city, you don’t have to wonder if Wi-Fi will be available, or if there will be a signal for your smartphone. If

 

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably someone lucky enough to take internet access for granted.

When you’re living in a big city, you don’t have to wonder if Wi-Fi will be available, or if there will be a signal for your smartphone. If you live a more remote rural area, you may have to deal with a spotty internet connection…. but what if you were three miles up in a remote area of the Himalaya Mountains?

This is the challenge faced by Sujata Sahu and the 17000 Ft Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to improving education and job opportunities in the Ladakh villages, located in harsh, high-altitude mountainous terrains in the Kashmir region between India, Pakistan, and China. Because these villages are so isolated and the climate conditions are so harsh, access to technology is a genuine problem.

Many of these Ladakh villages are nearly 10000 ft. above sea level with temperatures that can drop as low as -58°F. For the nearly 300,00 people who live scattered among these villages, education is a significant concern. The villages lack resources, infrastructure, teachers, advanced training for existing teachers, and exposure with the outside world.

The volunteers at 17000 Ft are dedicated to making a difference for Ladakh students – and now Raspberry Pi is helping too.

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1. Raspberry Pi Partners with the 17000 Ft Foundation to Create the DigiLab

Today, 17000 Ft works with over 200 village schools, that majority of which do not have phone connectivity or even electricity. There was no off-the shelf digital solution that would be fully functional to serve these offline communities and also be robust enough to be carried across the rough terrain and survive the frigid winters.

So, with the help of Raspberry Pi, an innovate solution has been created: the DigiLab.

The DigiLab is a solar-powered, adaptive digital learning solution that is built as a locally networked system ultimately connected to the Cloud with last mile connectivity through a connector app. Each school is provided with a Raspberry Pi server for local networking, along with a solar panel, gel battery, and tablets/laptops. In addition, each student has access to customized, personalized digital content to facilitate unique learning journeys.

 

2. Lofty Achievements

So far, the DigiLab has been implemented in 120 remote schools and run successfully for three years, even during the tough winter months.

During the first year, about 5000 students were enrolled, and over 90% were active participants. Today the DigiLab has provided over 60,000 hours of hands-on learning experiences, and students who previously had been cut-off from digital innovation are now becoming adept in their knowledge of technology. The program has been so successful, many parents who had been sending their children to private schools are now sending them to the government-run schools that have DigiLabs.

Best of all, now that the DigiLab solution has proven to be effective, it can be implemented in other remote off-the-grid regions where it’s previously been impossible to introduce digital technology. Raspberry Pi and 17000 Ft hope to extend this technological possibility to other schools across the Himalayas and beyond.

 

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3. Want to Help Make a Difference with Raspberry Pi and 17000 Ft?

As a non-profit organization, 17000 Ft relies on volunteers and donations to further its mission. With more funds and technical support, the organization will be able to reach more students with EdTech opportunities. There is also a program for Voluntourists to give back their time and efforts at local schools. You can write to sujata.sahu@17000ft.org to donate or find out more.

And don’t forget to return back to this Vilros blog for more news and stories from Raspberry Pi and Arduino.