Dr Sugata Mitra is a long-term educationist and a scientist of international repute. He has over 25 inventions and first-time applications in the areas of Cognitive Science, Information Science and Education Technology, to his credit. Dr Mitra has been the Chief Scientist at NIIT and is currently Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University, UK.
Dr Mitra is a winner of "Man of Peace Award" from Together for Peace Foundation, USA, and "Social Innovation Award" from Institute of Social Inventions, UK. He was also conferred the "Dewang Mehta Award" by the Government of India in recognition for his work related to Hole-in-the-Wall.
In 1999, the Hole in the Wall (HIW) experiments in children's learning, was first conducted. In the initial experiment, a computer was placed in a kiosk in a wall in a slum at Kalkaji, Delhi and children were allowed to use it freely. The experiment aimed at proving that children could be taught by computers very easily without any formal training. Mitra termed this Minimally Invasive Education (MIE). The experiment has since been repeated. HIW placed some 23 kiosks in rural India. In 2004 the experiment was carried out in Cambodia.
This work demonstrated that groups of children, irrespective of who or where they are, can learn to use computers and the Internet on their own with public computers in open spaces such as roads and playgrounds, even without knowing English. Mitra's publication was judged the best open access publication in the world for 2005 and he was awarded the Dewang Mehta Award for innovation in IT that year.