RECOM: A study of the students’ role in RTE
Founded in 2011 by the students of Bengal Engineering and Science University (BESU), RECOM or Recycling of Computers is a social entrepreneurial venture. It’s sole purpose being that of making affordable accessibility of computer education to children alike in schools without such facilities. At its very inception, the novelty of the idea earned RECOM a place among the top 20 college start-up ventures, certified by the TATA-National Entrepreneurship Network Foundation.
The project commenced by acquiring used up desktop computers from Capgemini, with the help of the officers of the Placement Cell, which then were recycled by students after investing for repair work and making them ready for low-end usage, as required in primary schools. While for various reasons the project faced retrogression, it was again taken up in mid-2012 by a group of enthusiastic students, mentored by Prof. M.K.Sanyal. Initially there were many obstacles, with the schools reluctant to accept RECOM(ed) computers due to lack of trust, also these computers came without the prevalent Windows software due to licensing issues, and were instead installed with UBUNTU, an open-source operating system, although the students kept visiting these schools, trying to convince the officials of their benefits and the goods of the open-source software movement.
Apart from ongoing repair work on more than 5 computers, plans were afoot to spread the activities of RECOM to even more remote areas along with weekend workshops where the students would act as resource persons to spread computer literacy. Funds were drying up, and the BEC Model School agreement thus breathed fresh air into the project. It is a case in point, since the school, which although had a computer laboratory, but only a few of its machines worked, courtesy a leaking rooftop. It was this school which had ultimately agreed to take a rent of 3 computers from RECOM. Finalization of the deal in November 2012 motivated the students so much that they had themselves carried the repaired monitors for nearly a kilometer. The idea of RECOM gathered acclaim when it was presented at the annual meet of the Forum of Scientists, Engineers and Technologists (FOSET).
Solely motivated about doing their bit towards empowering children the students are making an earnest effort of establishing connections with other schools in need. RECOM will hopefully go a long a way in doing its two pence towards execution of the RTE.
Contributed by the members of RECOM: Souvik Roy Chowdhury, Neeratyoy Mallik, Swarnava Majumdar, Sarbajit Das, Sandipan Mondal, Agnidhra Ghosh, Aranyak Roy and Arijit Ghosh.
Moderator’s note: Many of these BESU students are CRY volunteers working for child rights.