Educationist Who Left Computer in a Hole in the Wall to Teach Slum Children Wins $1 mn TED Prize

Sugata Mitra

Image: TED Blog

Sugata Mitra, the educationist who left an Internet enabled computer in a “hole in the wall” in a Delhi Slum and left it there to see how Children from the Slums learn English and acquire basic computer skills, has become the first ever winner of the $1 mn TED Prize.

The unconventional experiments to improve learning in children are very popular now. In 1999, Mitra and his colleagues discovered that children from the slum took to the computer left in the hole in a wall like fish to water.

“Soon, they saw kids from the slum playing with the computer, learning English and searching through a wide variety of websites on science and other topics, and then teaching each other,” the TED blog says.

Mitra and colleagues have been working on these experiments for over 13 years now. The Kolkata born professor teaches educational technology at the Newcastle University, UK. Mitra, 61, studied at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi and in Vienna and is known to have widely researched multiple discipline.

Mitra’s experiment is also said to have inspired Vikas Swarup, the Indian diplomat who wrote Q&A, which was adapted as Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle’s Oscar winning movie.

Hole in the Wall, is part of what he calls “minimally invasive education.” The assumption was that children can intuitively learn to use computers.

Similar experiments have been repeated in other parts of the world with similar results.

Take a look at the Hole in The Wall site here.