Marriage Can Wait, Education Can Not: CRY


Saleema (name changed) is about to reach her eighteenth birthday and cannot wait to begin her journey into life. But she is also sad to leave her school behind. After all, it was this school that gave her a new lease of life when she joined back four years ago. Saleema was married off when she was just twelve.

After going through the perils of extreme domestic violence, she came back home in a year’s time. It was a school teacher that got in touch with her family living in one of the remote villages of Jharkhand, India – called Modidih, an intervention area of Child Rights and You (CRY).

That was the turning point for Saleema. She went on to not only start on life afresh, but started taking part in singing competitions, winning accolades and using her talent to spread awareness about the importance of education and the perils of child marriage.

But not all girls are as lucky and courageous like her. In India, girls are still seen to be burdens to the family, to be married off soon, often in exchange of dowry. As the world gears up to celebrate the International Day of the Girl, 1 out of every 5 girls enrolled in school drops out after Class 8, 12.5 million girls between 5-18 years are child labourers and 1 out of every 3 child brides in the world is an Indian. Globally, 130 million girls are out of school and 15 million girls of primary school age do not even enter a classroom. This largely comes from the social mindset that investing in girls’ education is not worthy enough.

Puja Marwaha, CEO at CRY says, “When a girl goes to school, she stays away from early marriage, grows up as an empowered citizen who can secure her own future and take care of her family. It’s the responsibility of every individual and the civil society to be responsible and ensure accountability to implement and invest in schemes and legislations for girls’ education.”

CRY, a leading Indian non-profit, believes in creating access to education for girls to grow up educated and capable of influencing their communities. Along with many grassroots level partner organizations, CRY works for ensuring lasting change for children.

IIIT-Hyderabad First Indian University to Receive Alexa Graduate Fellowship for 2018-19 by Amazon

Science, Technology

Fellowship makes it easier for students and researchers to get involved with voice technology


IIIT-Hyderabad has received the Alexa Graduate Fellowship for 2018-2019, making it the first Indian university among a list of 18 universities worldwide to receive this fellowship.

The Alexa Fellowship supports advanced conversational AI research by providing funding and mentorship to PhD and post-doctoral students. These students, under their faculty advisor’s leadership and with additional guidance from their Alexa AI mentor, will push the boundaries of the capabilities of spoken language systems.

Prof. C V Jawahar, who has been chosen as the Faculty Advisor, along with Alexa Graduate Fellow Praveen Krishnan, a senior graduate student of IIIT-H, will teach conversational AI to undergraduate and graduate students using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Services (AVS). Students will be introduced to the science behind voice technology via hands-on projects and labs.

Speaking on the Fellowship, Prof C V Jawahar, Head, Centre for Visual Information Technology (CVIT) and Amazon Chair said, “IIIT-H is happy to be chosen as the first Indian institute to qualify for the Amazon Alexa Fund Fellowship. We’re looking forward to sharing our research on speech and language technologies with Amazon.”

IIIT-Hyderabad is the only Indian institute to receive Fellowship based on a number of criteria including its research interests, planned coursework and existing conversational AI curriculum. The other universities include Carnegie Mellon UniversityJohns Hopkins University, MIT App Inventor, University of Cambridge, University of SheffieldUniversity of Southern California, University of Texas at AustinUniversity of Washington, and University of Waterloo.

Paul Bernard, Director of the Alexa Fund, said, “We want to increase the quantity and quality of students focused on advancing spoken language systems, and conversational AI is usually under-represented amongst general AI/ML fields. With the Alexa Fellowship, we hope to see more innovation in the fields of machine learning, speech science and natural language understanding from students at IIIT-Hyderabad.”

Boeing donates $5 million to launch European STEM education effort


Boeing [NYSE: BA] today announced a $5 million investment in Newton Europe to launch Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)-focused “Newton Rooms” across nine European countries.

Pioneered by non-profit organization FIRST Scandinavia, Newton Rooms are themed, state-of-the-art classrooms focused on experiential learning. Boeing’s multi-year investment will establish Newton Rooms in the United KingdomGermanyNetherlandsFranceItalySpainBelgiumPoland and Sweden.

“Newton’s proven teaching methods and immersive, hands-on educational environments will help excite future innovators to pursue careers in STEM fields—many of which can be found at Boeing,” said Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president and CEO. “In addition to our financial investment, Boeing teammates here in the U.K. and throughout Europe will continue to volunteer their time and talents to help create innovative and engaging learning opportunities for students.”

The investment will fund several Newton Room concepts to deliver high-quality experiential STEM education to primary and secondary school students in Europe:

  • Boeing Newton Flight Academy: A permanent classroom used to teach students aviation-related STEM concepts, reinforced with full-motion flight simulators manufactured in Spain.
  • Boeing Newton Rooms: A themed, state-of-the-art permanent classroom focused on experiential learning. Potential themes include space, biofuels and advanced materials and manufacturing.
  • Boeing Pop-Up Newton Rooms: A portable package of flight simulator panels and classroom materials used to create a temporary Newton Room in virtually any suitable existing space.

Since 2013, Boeing has helped establish these three Newton concepts, with one of each in DenmarkNorway and the Netherlands. Non-profit organization FIRST Scandinavia successfully operates an additional 40 Newton Rooms in Norway.

Boeing’s investment will also fund a comprehensive suite of learning resources and materials, enabling teachers to incorporate the Newton experience into their core educational curriculum. All materials are free for both teachers and students.