This Chennai-based startup teaches coding and latest technologies in students’ native languages.
India is a nation of composite culture that takes pride in its Unity in Diversity. Census data shows that there are more than 19,500 mother tongues in India.30 languages among them have more than 1 million speakers each. The spirit of multiculturalism is perfectly captured by the phrase: Kos-kos par badle paani, chaar kos par baani (The language spoken in India changes every few kilometres, just like the taste of the water).
Diversity and Rising Aspirations
Since the digital revolution and emergence of India as the powerhouse of IT, the aspirations of the Indian youth have increased exponentially, especially Thus, to reap the benefits of the digital boom, students enroll in professional courses and learn how to code. However, many graduates need to be retrained and reskilled for months when they are hired by software companies. They get stuck in low-growth and less rewarding jobs in the software sector, which are repetitive and do not require specialized skills. Moreover, the emergence of new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Automation, etc. is bound to make their future bleak unless they are reskilled and become comfortable with the latest technologies.
Closing the Skill Gap
Chennai-based GUVI is working towards closing the gap that exists between the industry demand and skills of students. GUVI realized the need for teaching coding and programming in native languages to Indian students. This was because the mother tongue enables maximum retention and easier understanding of new concepts compared to other languages that an individual learns in his/her life.
This makes GUVI the first mover in this field and it has provided a holistic platform that meets the diverse needs of students and employers.
GUVI is the brainchild of Mr Balamurugan, Ms Sri Devi, and Mr Arun Prakash. The trio has vast experience in the IT industry and was seeing the changes that the sector was going through.
Since coding is taught in English, the pedagogy used by instructors and teachers was not easily understood by students. For example, the urban youth might be familiar with pizza, pasta and pie, whose examples are cited in the books and by professors to explain the concepts. However, students from smaller towns and villages are not easily able to relate to such examples since they might not have seen or had them in their lives. Thus, GUVI uses examples like Dosa, Idli, and Halwa, which the Indian youth from diverse backgrounds are familiar with.
Making Coding Relevant For All
The idea started taking shape in 2011–12. They had come across students who wanted to learn programming but could not because of the non-availability of content that could simplify their learning process. So, they started their own YouTube channel and worked on creating content in vernacular languages that met the interest of the learners as well as the demands of the industry. They conducted hackathons and collaborated with colleges to reach out to students in different cities.
As the community grew bigger, they saw positive results in terms of their audience getting hired for better quality jobs. That is when they decided to scale it up and pursue it full time. GUVI was incubated at IIT Madras in 2014 and later by CIIE from IIM Ahmedabad. The idea was to create an integrated platform that nurtures talent and meets the needs of students and the industry.
The team brought in experts working in the IT sector on board to curate the latest, industry-relevant content. They also brought onboard companies to hire the students from GUVI. This enabled it to become a holistic platform where the different stakeholders can be brought on the same page.
GUVI offers both paid and free courses. The paid courses are priced affordably so that students from different backgrounds can enrol in them easily. Moreover, the platform created is such that it is accessible even with low-bandwidth infrastructure that is usually available in Indian villages. This highlights their prime focus on the needs of rural students and the ground realities of India. Around the pandemic lockdown in March 2020, GUVI decided to transition from B2B to B2C. The pandemic has shown the necessity for platforms like GUVI, with its economical, digital, and interactive pedagogy.
2.5 lakh students enrolled for free courses on GUVI during the pandemic lockdown.
Currently, they have more than 5 lakh learners and 250+ companies using their platform. The team provides about 80 courses in languages such as Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, and English. The content is in the form of videos, reading materials, and projects. They cover courses in diverse domains like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Blockchain, Game Development, Cyber Security, Angular, Java, Python, etc.
Creating Impact and Transformation
As a pioneer in this field, it was challenging for GUVI to make people realize the potential of its idea. With the fascination for English in India and its prevalence in the IT industry, it was difficult to bring about a behavioural change in stakeholders. But the outcomes of the teams’ efforts in terms of better employment opportunities for its users proved that its efforts are in the right direction. Tie-ups with employers from the industry, IITs, IIMs, and venture capitalists further increased their credibility. Having experts working on the latest technologies from the industry helped them design relevant courses.
Rather than focusing on independent languages, GUVI helps the learners to become Full Stack Developers, thus increasing their employability manifold.
To bring about a behavioural change in line with the National Education Policy, 2020, GUVI has come up with HackerKID for 9–14-year-old children. Its play and learning-based model develops logic building and problem solving skills, which are the foundation for learning to code among the kids. This decimates the notion of coding being tough that children imbibe later. This free platform has been appreciated by MHRD as well and is in line with GUVI’s vision of being a platform that nurtures talent.
A meritorious daily-wage earner who used to study on scholarships is currently working as a data scientist. Another student who belonged to a weaver family was able to land a job in a software firm and increase his annual income from Rs 3.5 Lakh to Rs 14 Lakh. The people at GUVI help transform many such lives through their work. The team is also developing content in foreign languages like Arabic and Malay as well so that learners of native languages are not left behind by the digital train.
Thus, an inclusive, learner-focused platform like GUVI helps to nurture talent and shape a bright future for our nation. It is when people from diverse backgrounds rise together that our nation will become ‘Atmanirbhar’ and a global leader. Such values are evidently espoused by the GUVI team.
Check out how the CEO Mr Balamurugan surprised Vivek, the fifth lakh GUVI user.
Article by Subhav Duggal, Team ulaunch.