Episode 005

Project DEFY









Megha Sharma Bhagat

Owen Kelly

Abhijit Sinha



December 7, 2018


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Megha Sharma Bhagat and Abhijit Sinha from Project DEFY in Bangalore visited Helsinki to take part in the HundrED innovation summit. Owen Kelly met them in the cafe in Kiasma, Helsinki’s modern art museum, to talk to them about culture, democracy, and radical action in India.

DEFY stands for “define education for yourself”. The project team believe that education should be much more than merely a transfer of instruction. They argue that “education is a much more interesting process of self-discovery and understanding of local and global surroundings. We believe that education must be brought back into the hands of the people, and therefore we envision an a self-designed education for all, which is accessible, equitable and localised”.

On their website they describe Project DEFY’s mission like this:

Reclaiming the meaning of education and breaking the existing factory-model of learning, by helping communities create their own schools. These schools are called Nooks.

The two basic tenets of our approach are – “learning happens naturally” and “information is available freely”. We, therefore, went ahead and created our own school, and our own learning environment, which has no teachers, no exams; where people of different ages and background learn together out of curiosity, and knowledge sharing. We call these schools “Nooks”.

Nook is a corner that offers a sense of security. The Hindi version of Nook is even better – it is called Nukkad (नुक्कड़) which is that corner of the street where people gather in their free time.

For us, it is our space where kids and adults can safely express, experiment and experience different domains of learning, and find their interests.

Project DEFY is reaching out to communities who are distraught with the inefficiency of current education systems, and helping them to create their own Nooks – self-learning.