Krishna Thiruvengadam

Can design education focused on impact uplift rural children?

Children are highly creative and have natural problem solving abilities, however, their voice is often neglected in their communities owing to (a) Lack of inclusivity of children who are not academically inclined but have great creative potential (b) Lack of connection to the real world thereby not being exposed to the practical challenges (c) Lack of ownership in school and development In order to solve this, we present our impact based educational system for children from marginalised/low income communities, discussing aspects of how it has led to an improvement in the self esteem of the children, also improving other 21st century skills through an ‘impact based portfolio’ Through this approach, we have seen examples of rural children getting scholarships, women self help groups setting up enterprises based on student innovations, participation of girls in STEM related activities and so on. The stakeholders/communities involved are : children aged 10 to 14, local youth members responsible for managing innovation labs (18 to 22), women self-help groups etc The process which we have followed is a human-centered design curriculum which involves what we unconditioning, critical thinking and design thinking stages with an emphasis given to co-creation as a powerful tool to make the innovations more contextualised, leading to more such grassroot innovations.


I am a social impact designer working in the intersection of frugal innovation, contextualization and design education. I am the founder of Lead by Design Foundation, an award-winning non-profit organization in India that enables children from low-income communities to solve community challenges through design and innovation.

Keywords: Innovative education, quality education


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