Meet Sukla Mondal.
How technology helped a young mother gain the confidence to take on bold new challenges.
6 Minute read
Sukla pours dishwashing soap, corn syrup, and food coloring into a bowl and then presents the mixture to a group of four and five-year-olds.
Eagerly, they dive in, blowing bubbles that float across the kindergarten classroom. Just a few years ago, Sukla couldn’t have imagined herself standing in front of a room full of students. But today, she is a full-time teacher, a dream that for years, she had to set aside.
Sukla grew up in a small village in India’s West Bengal state. What little income her family made came from a small tea shop run by her father. From a young age, Sukla knew she had a passion for teaching, but because of financial constraints, her parents arranged for her marriage shortly after she finished college.
Sukla shelved her goal of becoming a teacher, focusing instead on her responsibilities as a housewife—preparing meals, maintaining the house, and caring for her young son. As time went on, however, she felt increasingly out of touch, and began to shy away from friends and neighbors’ conversations about politics and current events, never feeling she had the knowledge to contribute in the same way she had when she was in college.
But then, in 2018, Sukla learned about the Digital Empowerment Foundation, a non-profit organization that brings technology to people in rural areas of India. The foundation gave her an Android (Go edition) smartphone—her first smartphone ever—and taught her how to use it. Once she felt comfortable navigating the device, Sukla used Google Go to purchase a gas tank, which is how she powers her stove for cooking. Sukla opened the Google Go app to search for the gas company’s website and phone number, and then placed the order through their online form. “I know it might not seem like much,” she says, “but being able to accomplish this small task made me feel confident in my ability to use my phone and to try using it for other things too.”
This first step empowered Sukla to take on larger ones. She began using Google Go to learn phrases in English and Hindi (she speaks only Bengali) so that she could communicate better with her five-year-old son’s teachers. “I always worried about being seen as an inadequate mother because I struggled to help him with his homework,” she says. Now, she can search Google Go for whatever topics he’s working on and watch videos or read articles about them. For the first time, she can also review her son’s grades, report cards, and curriculum online, too. “Before, I didn’t have the internet and didn’t know how to use it,” Sukla says. “With Google Go, I can be involved in my son’s education the way I’ve always wanted to be.”
“With Google Go, I can be involved in my son’s education the way I’ve always wanted to be.”
As Sukla worked with her son on his school work, she began to feel more and more confident in her skills as an educator. “As I was learning more things through Google Go, I found I was able to contribute to conversations with friends and neighbors about the news, politics, and culture [again],” Sukla says. “I began to feel smart, and to feel like maybe I had the potential to be a teacher—not just for my son, but for other students, as well.” Ultimately, she decided to revisit her dream of becoming a teacher.
“Some days, I’m stunned by how much my phone, this tiny device, has changed my life. It’s allowed me to feel that I am worthy of pursuing my dream. And then it helped me do it.”
Today, Sukla is a full-time kindergarten teacher at her village’s local school. Additionally, she’s in the process of becoming an accredited primary school teacher—a distinction that would allow her to teach at larger, more prestigious schools, and to earn a higher salary. Currently, Sukla is studying for the primary school accreditation exam, using Google Go to research test topics including history, mathematics, language arts, and environmental science.
Sukla says that people have noticed a change in her since she started using her Android (Go edition) smartphone. “I’m confident in a way I wasn’t before,” she says. “Some days, I’m stunned by how much my phone, this tiny device, has changed my life. It’s allowed me to feel that I am worthy of pursuing my dream. And then it helped me do it.”
How Sukla does it.
Sukla uses Google Go to have a greater role in her son’s education. She relies on Google Go to help him with his homework and to check his grades online. She also turns to the application to learn English and Hindi phrases so that she can communicate with his teachers.
Sukla browses news sites with Google Go, so that she is able to participate in conversations about politics, culture, and current events. For the first time in a long time, Sukla says she has the confidence to speak up and share her opinions.
With Google Go at her fingertips, Sukla can finally pursue her dream of becoming a primary school teacher. She is using the application to study a variety of topics for her upcoming teaching exam.
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