(March 10, 2022) At Sat Paul Mittal School in Ludhiana, the students can’t wait to learn something new. For them, it entails pulling out their phones and tablets, and opening up popular game Minecraft, immersing themselves in ancient Egyptian history, or tales from the Ramayana, and more. Created by Swedish game makers Mojang Studio, Minecraft allows players to create and build a world of their own. To 15-year-old teen edupreneur, Namya Joshi, this presented an opportunity like no other.
In January 2021, when that fateful call from the Prime Minister’s office came, Namya learned that she was a recipient of the 2021 Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar. A well-earned recognition of a mammoth effort to make education more fun, interactive and easier to absorb, the teen edupreneur’s skills in multimedia saw her train more than 10,000 students, teachers, and school principals from 108 countries.
Fame is no stranger to the teen edupreneur. Six months after being told about the Bal Puraskar, Namya had the media swarming her doorstep once more. This time, she had received praise from Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, who congratulated her on Twitter after their meeting. Namya had been one of 250 students and teachers at the Young Innovators’ Summit 2020 held in New Delhi.
I was energized to meet so many young innovators in India this week, including Namya Joshi who is training teachers around the world on how to use Minecraft as a learning tool. Their empathy, passion and ingenuity will change our world for the better. https://t.co/iF2GxUGkSq
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) February 26, 2020
Namya discovered Minecraft by chance. Developed in 2009, Minecraft is the bestselling videogame of all time, with over 238 million copies sold, and nearly 140 million monthly active users as of 2021. Over the years, it has been ported to several other platforms. Players explore a 3D world with infinite virtual terrain where they can mine and collect resources, craft and shape tools, alter landscapes, build structures and simple machines. Just for fun, the teen edupreneur rendered a Manali vacation into the game!
However, as she sailed through school, she noticed friends struggling to grasp lessons taught merely through text. The idea came to her in 2018 – why not intersperse a game like Minecraft with school lessons? Rushing home to the drawing board, Namya, then in Class 6, did her first render – an Egyptian civilisation. She showed it to her history teacher, who was amazed with what the teen had produced, wholeheartedly accepting her innovation into the classroom. “I could see the difference instantly. People were way more interactive in class because they could understand the concepts now,” teen edupreneur, Namya Joshi said, in an interview with Global Indian.
Spurred on by her success, Namya began creating more complex renders. “People tend to forget speeches and text-based information so I wanted to design lessons with gaming and ICT tools to make classroom lessons interesting. Now, Minecraft is used in every class in my school to make lessons more engaging and students more inquisitive,” says the teen edupreneur.
#Each One Can Teach Ten
Four years later, Namya has designed more than 100 educational lesson plans, mapping with the UN’s SDG goals. “I started by training teachers in my school, then district, state and country” smiles the teen edupreneur. Offers began pouring in from across the world and the young teen edupreneur was soon conducting lessons on Skype and Teams. She and her mother, who is the IT head of her school, were invited on a five-day tour to Finland. The altruistic teen delivered the keynote address, conducted workshops in Finnish schools to train teachers, pupils and even a prominent official from the ministry of education, who said, “I loved the way this 12 year-old-girl has engrossed everyone here!”. “He shook hands with me and said, I am doing a wonderful job,” the teen edupreneur says.
Namya is dedicated to her venture #Each One Can Teach Ten; firm on the belief that this would make a beautiful and impactful chain in tandem with UN SDGs, “I train people so that they can design their classroom lessons. The earnings are sent to NGOs for taking care of animals. I love nature, and want to create lessons for nature conservation too,” says the teen.
Lessons from home
Her mother, Monica, taught her never to give up, and remain grounded and humble. Namya’s father an IT professional with his own firm also hugely contributed to her prowess as did her mother. “My father tells me never to stop innovating. My grandparents tell me stories that teach me lessons about life,” says the single child. In school too, support is always forthcoming, as she describes her principal as her “backbone,” motivating her to “keep on going ahead with all my endeavours.” The teen edupreneur considers herself a pillar too – “If I cannot support and motivate myself then nobody can.”
Juggling so many priorities and taking on the world at 15 means Namya is removed from the concerns of an average teenager. Her life is marked by a strict schedule, with priorities arranged in order of importance. This timetable is followed to a tee, due diligence is the only way to balance her academics with her vocation. “I don’t go to bed without reading what was taught in class that day, so the concepts are clear,” adds the problem solver.
The way ahead
Now, the teen innovator plans to build her own startup which offers free game-based lessons for people across the world. “It should not just be gaming, it should impart learning in the process,” she says. That apart, her sweet tooth gives us a glimpse of the child within – Namya can’t resist dessert. She also makes time for an exhaustive laundry list of activities outside school and her startup – environmental science, history, physics, music, art, calligraphy, dance, sports, singing spending time with family, and reading.