Lack of basic infrastructural facilities has become a major concern among government schools. According to the survey conducted by the Educational Planning and Infrastructure of India in the year 2015-2016, almost 20 million students in the age group of 6-14 did not have access to basic necessities like study desks and chairs, leaving them no other choice but to sit on the cold classroom floors. To lend a helping hand, the students of IIT Madras have come up with the idea of making desks out of cardboard cartons and distribute it among various schools under their campaign ReACH.
What is ReACH?
Reuse A Carton to Help (ReACH), is a social endeavour by the students of IIT Madras as a part of their annual college festival. The students collected hundreds of used cardboard cartons from shopping malls, electronic shops, and various other places, with the motive of creating desks with materials that were inexpensive and had high strength. The design for the desk was inspired from a south Korean interior designer, Ha Young Lee, who made similar desks out of cardboard for the underprivileged kids in his country.
The students made some modifications to his design and created a desk that could be assembled by interlocking parts made out of cardboard making it an economic and sustainable method of reusing the cardboard which mostly ends up as waste in landfills.
Campaign Acknowledged by many big organizations
At first, the students mainly collected the cartons from a number of shopping malls, but as soon as their work reached the ears of big companies like Reliance digital, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, who were more than happy to support their cause by providing them with ample of cartons and setting up a network. With the production of these desks requiring a lot of manpower, ReACH collaborated with BHUMI, one of three biggest NGO’s in India, who provided them with volunteers who helped them in manufacturing and conducting workshops regarding the importance of recycling. With the help of Teach for India (TFI), the students were able to locate schools which lacked desks and distributed it among them. Various renown personalities like Anil Kumble, Kiran Bedi and Rakesh Sharma have shown their support towards this noble cause too.
Providing desks in every corner possible
Over the past four months, the team of ReACH has contacted over 7 schools and provided desks to over 350 students. In addition to this, they are also educating these students on how to make the desks themselves for future purpose. Siddhesh Desai, head of the public relations team of IIT Madras, when asked about the long-term goals of this campaign, said that they hope to improve the design of the desks even more. “The cardboard can get soggy if it comes in contact with water in any way. We plan on putting a layer of plastic sheet in it improve its lifespan”, Siddhesh added. ReACH hope to expand their campaign to various other cities in the upcoming months and hope to help more underprivileged students. By this campaign, they hope that students all around the country get motivated to take initiatives that will help them give back to the society.