Alappuzha, November 17th, 2008: Three girls found dead in their classroom. The students hadn’t returned home after school and their parents lodged a missing report with the police. Following a search, their bodies were found in the classroom late in the night. The girls committed suicide by drinking pesticide. Police had cited various reasons ranging from chiding by teachers to a failed love affair behind the suicide.
More than two months after the incident, two fellow students were arrested on the charge of abetting their suicide. Scientific tests established that the girls were sexually abused by the accused.
This news really shocked the people in Kerala. Following the incident, everybody blamed technologies such as mobile phone, SMS and internet for this… There were active discussions and debates on cutting children’s and teenagers’ access to technology.
We thought the other way. Why could we not find a solution with technology at its core?
Next year we developed an SMS based software named Frisbee which could send bulk SMS. Owing to heavy competition the product did not survive long. However, we understood the market and the necessity.
Later, we conducted a study in about 25 schools in Kerala. There were many incidents happening to students that the teachers and parents could only stand like scarecrows.
One such case:
Place: Government School, somewhere in Kottayam District
A high-school girl was absent in school for more than 20 days. Only then did the teachers come to notice the girl’s long absence. One day, some teachers went to the girl’s house. They were shocked to know that the girl left house regularly for school, however, she never reached the school. At the end her parents, told the teachers that she was at home for the past 20 days to avoid publicity or any action against her from the school.
Hence we came up with the idea of GuruSparsh to send attendance as SMS to parents. It was not an very innovative idea as such software were already available. However, those software focused big schools. We felt that other parents and children should also enjoy same levels of security and comfort.
On August 4th, we inaugurated project GuruSparsh, through which all government schools in Kerala could send SMS free of cost. Even though GuruSparsh is not the final answer to the above mentioned problems happening to the young generation, it definitely is a helping hand to the society in order to nurture a better generation.