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Ritu Malhotra: Inspiring Kids Across the World to Embrace Global Citizenship

Ritu Malhotra: Inspiring Kids Across the World to Embrace Global Citizenship

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here! I’m here to bring you the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Ritu Malhotra, the co-founder of ARCedtech Solutions Pvt Ltd (ARC). Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Ritu! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your startup?

Ritu: Happy to be with you, Spiffy! As per World Economic Forum, key skills of tomorrow are environmental stewardship, global citizenship, creativity, digital skills, and collaboration. Did you know there is no structured curriculum for schools to develop these skills in students?

Spiffy: Oh, really? I had no idea! 

Ritu: Yes, really! And that’s where my startup comes in. ARC is a social impact education startup providing a structured curriculum for integrating the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for climate education and global citizenship in schools. Our solutions include student handbooks (printed and digital), teacher handbooks, and capacity-building workshops for teachers. These tools help students develop 21st century skills like critical thinking and problem-solving and make them globally responsible citizens.

Spiffy: That sounds awesome! What motivated you to do it?

Ritu: When I was teaching in 2019, my school was shut for many days because of severe pollution in the Delhi NCR region. I was deeply disturbed by rising health problems among children and loss of learning. That's when I decided to take action. I started by teaching my students about the UN SDGs and noticed considerable change in their behavior. They became kind, empathetic, and more responsible. I did not want to stop at one class or one school. I wanted this learning to reach every child on this planet, and this inspired me to create content on SDGs for children.

Spiffy: How would you say you or your team at ARC are working towards a more equitable world?

Ritu: Children have a vivid imagination, and, under proper guidance and mentoring, they can come up with innovative solutions to tackle the problems of the world. This is the reason we have published Be the Change, a series of integrated and curriculum-agnostic activity books for students from grades nursery to eight, which introduces the SDGs to children in child-friendly language. This will help us create a world where everyone deeply understands the problems of our planet and where fairness and equity are embedded in their everyday decisions.

Spiffy: Awesome! Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make on your community or audience?

Ritu: Recently, we launched our digital platform with worksheets, videos, and quizzes. This is helping us reach more and more children around the world. We are now working with schools in India, UAE, Portugal, Brazil, and more. In our journey, we have made around 100,000 students aware of SDGs and global problems through a well-structured course. We have also empowered over 5,000 teachers globally through capacity-building workshops on SDGs.

Spiffy: Congratulations on that success! Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?

Ritu: Failures are the most integral part of success. When I first started my venture, its aim was to provide training and conduct workshops for educators and corporate personnel. After around an year, I realized that the teachers were equipped to teach the SDGs, but, in the absence of a structured curriculum, the quality of the results was of varying proportions. Some teachers did well while others struggled. Also, students didn't get enough hands-on learning material. This made me re-invent my product and led to the birth of our Be the Change course.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Ritu: We should never underestimate the power of small efforts. When eight billion people make that effort, it changes the world!

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Ritu—it’s been an honor!

Ritu Malhotra, popularly known as the SDG Educator of India, is the founder of ARC, an educational social impact startup. She is a climate activist and is the recipient of the prestigious Sarojni Naidu International Award for Working Women. She was a fellow at International Sustainability Academy in Hamburg, Germany, where she explored multiple ways to tackle climate change. (First published on the Ladderworks website on March 20, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.