In 1983, 90% of the Indian population didn’t complete their school curriculum and 75% still lived in rural areas, characterized by a clear lack of schools and adapted educational methods.
That’s exactly why Dr. Kalbag picked the village of Pabal, a very rough place, without electricity nor water supply, to create the Vigyan Ashram. A place dedicated to deliver “education through development and development through education”: in other words, Rural Development through Educational System (RDES).
It started as a non-formal education center based on learning while doing methods, interdisciplinary projects and living (farming, food processing, …) and non-living (engineering, energy environment, …) syllabus. Intended to students out of the educational system, there were no age neither background barriers to access it.
In 2000, there were 2 core programs: DBRT (Diploma in Basic Rural Technology), residential courses dedicated to children that dropped the education system and IBT (Introduction to Basics of Technology), courses run into Maharashtra schools to teach differently to children.
The same year, Neil Gershenfeld, the “father of Fab Labs”, visited the place and since then, keeps on saying Vigyan Ashram should be an inspiration for all. Further to his coming, FabFoundation provided digital fabrication machines and tools to enrich the teaching of Vigyan Ashram. In 2002 was born the “Fab Lab 0”, the 1st Fab Lab after the MIT’s. Since 2011, after a few refurbishments and expansion, the last version is called Fab Lab 0.3.
Today, the Vigyan Ashram vision is the same but tools, techniques and processes evolved with the technology. Many success stories came out of the space in terms of low-tech rural innovations : Mechbull, a low-cost tractor made out of scrap, rice dehusking machines or egg incubator are commercialized on the market.