Education to Empowerment (E2E) is a non-profit organisation using technology to bridge the urban-rural digital divide by giving primary students in rural Kandiyapita a modern education.
E2E was founded in 2012 by then 17-year-old Yohan Sumathipala while a student at Swarthmore College, USA. Since then, E2E’s vision for Kandiyapita has grown to encompass digital skills, English literacy and community-centred project-based learning to teach students the skills to be engaged with their community and become leaders of change.
Surrounded by paddy fields and croplands, Nalanda Kanishta Vidayala has a little over a 100 students, ages six to 14, who study in open-air classrooms. The idea behind E2E was born while Yohan Sumathipala was visiting his grandparents in Sri Lanka during the summer of 2012, during which time he visited the school and donated a few laptops.
“I was struck by the inequalities of this rural, agrarian community. My impression when I founded E2E was that the lack of social mobility kept the village impoverished from generation to generation. Greatly believing in education as an equalizer, I made a commitment five years ago to help the children of Kandiyapita,” said Yohan.
With recognition from the Clinton Global Initiative University in 2014, E2E’s innovative education model, called U R Learning (URL), uses an interdisciplinary approach, incorporating digital literacy, English and traditional curricula through project-based learning.
The model is made of three parts – ORG for organizing technology and human resources, NET for networking with technology experts and COM for conducting community development projects through project-based learning.
E2E has so far donated 30 laptops, three digital projectors, two consumer grade printers and one heavy-duty printer. For the past four years, E2E has been providing free afterschool and weekend English and IT classes for the students. Every summer, Yohan and his Swarthmore E2E team ran technology-integrated learning projects at the school to supplement the students’ digital literacy skills.