It was 14 November, 2015 in Wembley Stadium, London, when Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi said, “My India resides in people like Imran Khan from Alwar,” not many people were aware who this Imran Khan is and what are his contributions. Imran Khan is a true hero who learnt computer programming and web development through online tutorials and the books left by his younger brother and developed 65 education Apps and donated all of them to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) as a patriotic contribution to Digital India.
With over 62 Lakh Installs and 6 Crore Screen Views and counting, the total estimated value of his apps is over Rs 3.32 crores. Since then, he has received Rajasthan Bhamashah Award (1st) 2016 by Rajasthan government, State Level Teacher Award, 2016 by Hon’ble CM of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje, CNBC Cisco Digitizing India Award, 2016 by Hon’ble Union Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu, Zee Business Makers of India Award, 2016, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Award of Utakarsh Classes by Hon’ble MoS Mr. P.P Chaudhary amongst many others.
In an exclusive interaction with The Policy Times, PM Modi’s Imran Khan of Alwar, Rajasthan talks about the Apps, current situation of Indian education, how can India provide quality education using technology and his future plans.
Q. How did this idea of developing educational apps come to your mind and then providing the apps to the HRD ministry?
Answer: I am a science teacher and teach Science and Maths in my school. I love science. To learn new things and to create scientific models is my hobby. You know if you give a phone to a 4-5 yrs old kid, he can use a phone camera, sing song or play video. They are very comfortable to use phones. I wanted to use this interest in imparting education for them. So I created educational and responsive website and later started creating Android apps. I believe that we have to use IT and new technology in education. Also you know there is a big gap between Urban and rural India in providing quality education and educational institutions. And IT can play key role to fill this. We provide Free educational content to the students of India through these apps in Hindi. We found least interest by developers to create apps or websites in Hindi or regional languages. We explored it as an opportunity.
Let me tell you an incident why we have given the apps to the HRD ministry. Once HRD Minister invited a team from Alwar and asked to present our initiatives in education. I was also in the team. Various initiatives were presented. My apps were also presented. HRD Minister Smt. Smriti Irani watched my apps. She was surprised to know that a teacher is developing apps and more than 30 lakh users are using. She asked me to donate these apps to the country. I said, “Ma’am already 30 Lakh users are using these apps and nothing can make me happier than providing these apps to Ministry so that these apps can be used by students from all over India.”
Q. Did you meet PM Modi Yet? Do you have plans to meet him? How much has your life changed after shooting to instant fame after PM Modi mentioned you and your success abroad?
I have not met the PM but I definitely want to meet him. But you know my work is not that big that I can meet the honourable PM. I pray to the Almighty Allah that such occasion will come anytime.
However, after mentioning by Prime Minister two things are been changed. Firstly, I have received national acclaim and recognition. Now I receive a lot of phone calls and a lot of people want to talk me. I give a lot of interviews. I am invited to attend various programs. As a result of which, I am finding less time for my apps.
Secondly, my expenses have gone up. A lot of person come to my home to meet me and to discuss about various things. So a big part salary now goes in Tea and Sugar Bill (Big Smile…).
Q. Why you turned down the post of Project Officer from the dept. of science and tech. as you could have served the nation in a better way?
Answer: I think it is not important to be an officer to do a big work and offer to be Project Officer was being offered by Government of Rajasthan. For me, the first thing is to continue my work of developing and updating the apps, websites and support to online students. I don’t want these to suffer. I don’t think that it is important to be an officer and left the work which have given you name and fame. I am still a member of Central Committee and creating apps for central Govt. So I felt that I can serve the nation better this way.
Q. How do you think the common men would be benefitted with these apps?
Answer: Yes common men would be definitely benefited with these apps. All apps are free and many apps are in Hindi language. But the most important thing that I want to share with you that these apps may not be technically very advanced but I have been able to consider experiences of classroom teachers and that’s why my apps has 98.8% returning users. According to analytics on 50 apps, more then 80 Lakh users are been benefited. Not only from India but more than 50 countries has users of my apps. I receive number of emails and complements and stories of how my apps are benefiting them.
Q. What, according to you, are the basic reasons of lacking quality education in India?
Quality education depends on quality education system, quality teacher and quality management, quality infrastructure and quality atmosphere. To improve, I see various schemes, models, initiatives and new experiments are implemented. And in most cases, teachers do not feeling comfortable with all of these development. We need reforms in education according to the need of time our society not according to the rules of foreign countries. We don’t need to copy their methods and techniques. We have to create according according to our climate and atmosphere. Moreover, we have to strengthen public education system especially the government schools. In India still about 80% are from lower economic class and can not bear expenses of private education system.
Q. Why are we not able to produce quality technocrats despite having a pool of talented students?
Answer: In India there is no lack of talented students. We definitely need a lot of quality technocrats. The reason behind this is Brain drain. Talented students go to foreign countries in multinational companies for better pay and opportunities. You know IITs and other universities have very good ranking in worldwide. They have their own reputation and facilities. We have to create opportunities in India for talented students.
Q. Developing the apps in regional language restrict lot of students from getting benefited. Don’t you think so?
Answer: I think primary Education should be given in mother tongue. I have created apps in Hindi language and also want to create Apps in other regional languages.
Q. How much have “Digital India” been successful in education when it have been grossly criticized?
Answer: Digitalising India in all fields is very important. In education, we have a lot of books in ebooks format. Many apps, video lectures and content in other formats are are now being created and distributed to schools. You can see how “digital India” is definitely playing important role in education reforms. However, we still have shortage of teachers who are trained in technology.
We have to train them according latest educational techniques so that we can use this to improve their teaching and learning experience.
Q. What are your future plans to improve education in India?
Answer: These days I am busy with education Android apps and definitely will create iOS apps. I want to create an open e-Academy for students of India in Hindi and other regional languages along with English. So that students find quality content and they can learn at their own pace. They can learn what they want, when they want and how much they want. No class barriers, no fear of a fail or pass I want to provide an atmosphere of self learning.
Q. What is your message to teachers, educationists and most importantly Indian students?
To Students : As much as you can, identify your strengths, your hobby and your interests and do your best! There is no reason that can stop you to succeed if you follow your dreams and work hard.
To teachers and others : Future of India is in your hands and you have to do a lot of hard work with honesty. Don’t let go the opportunity to make India the world Guru again.