Ep 08 - Abhijit Sinha - Unschooling India

Brief intro

Our guest for episode 08 of the experimentQ podcast is Abhijit Sinha, a young innovator and the founder of Project DEFY. He has designed many social innovations in India and Africa, including Bodacart – a $500 ambulance, a waterless urinal, an accident detection app and more.

Abhijit believes that high-quality education should be accessible to all and that each person should be capable enough to customise it, to their needs and interests. And all that is needed is to break the fear of making choices.

This episode was recorded in a nook - meaning a self-organized community learning space, hosted at Protovillage, 100 km away from Bangalore, India. We dive into the story of project Defy, take a critical stand on the schooling system and imagine the future of education in India.

I honestly wish I had more time, to stay in the village, to get a holistic experience and understanding of Abhijit's work, as lots of his ideas resonate with my vision for the future of learning, but I needed to run and catch a flight to Moldova. It is my hope the two-hour visit, summarized in this interview, will help me pass on the message.


About the guest

2:50 - The little village story

5:00 - The hashtag game

6:35 - Wow learning experiences in 2017

9:00 - The drive to build learning spaces

11:30 - On trusting people with their own learning 

About Project Defy (Inception / Process / Growth)

12:45 - About Project Defy and the meaning of Nook

16:00 - The inception moment and learning to disappear 

17:50 - On how communities take over

19:30 - Getting help

21:20 - Government-caused anger as an inspiration source

23:00 - Overcoming challenges (gender issues)

24:55 - The story of Protovillage

26:50 - Budget and the checklist for building a Nook

29:50 - Ways to scale Project Defy

31:45 - activities within Nooks. The need for unschooling and self-governance. 

33:40 - Where do good questions come from? 

35:45 - On parents’ feedback

39:15 - Building confidence

41:45 - On how to select Nook managers

44:10 - Guides and resources for NOOK managers

46:15 - The future of education in India. 

48:30 - The role of old and wise 

Episode summary

50:25 - The need to reinvent the wheel?

52:00 - A good learner makes for a great teacher/learning manager.

54:25 - Ways to organize your own learning

56:35 - On being the Minister of Education in India (Facing the tiger)

57:45 - A message to the world - Live.

58:35 - Open microphone moment. The history of education

1:00:35 - Ways to reach out



  1. Deschooling society



  1. Bilal Ghalib

  2. Freeman Murray

  3. Kalyan Akkipeddi


Links / Resources

  1. Project Defy

  2. Protovillage

  3. MakerSpaces

  4. experimentQ on Patreon.com

  5. experimentQ on SoundCloud


Video format