Words by Tess Becker
Education can change the world but not everyone has equal access to it. As a result, the scientist with the intelligence to find a cure for cancer could lack the resources to do so. Sometimes all it takes is a spark, a few tools and young people can do the rest - this is what shapes the work of 15-year-old Saket Pathek.
Saket was inspired by a 2017 trip to India where he saw kids without many of the learning resources he enjoyed using back in the US. As he grew older, he started looking into ways to make a difference, and in 2022, he created Learning Quest, an organization with the goal of providing all kids with “accessible learning.”
“When a child is deprived of essential resources, what they do afterward and their perception of the world is changed as an effect,” Saket writes. “With proper education comes the ability to think better, earn better and explore new horizons!”
“A learning quest is a journey to an underprivileged child’s success through community-based education services and resources that can be used by everyone alike.”
Since the start of the initiative, Saket has helped donate over 8,000 books to children in need around the world, helping an estimated 20,000 kids. To expand their reach, Learning Quest partners with other charitable organizations to donate books to schools and communities. They raise funds for those organizations and provide materials where needed.
The project started while Saket was still in middle school, and he’s now reaching tenth grade. Even though he has much schoolwork to worry about, he wants to continue developing Learning Quest throughout his studies at high school and later, college.
“An entire movement that me and my team are trying to create with Learning Quest is simply just to try to empower every child to learn and grow and just get the accessible education that they need and deserve,” he tells Smiley News. “This whole movement is constantly going to change and this problem of education will always be there.”
His topmost goal is expansion: trying to reach more kids and more communities while providing more services on a broader scale. This will come mainly in the form of financial literacy or STEM-focused resources.
He hopes to use digital technology to help organisations, institutions and individuals build a community of educational support.
“One of the biggest issues that we have is always finding out the schools that need the most help,” Saket says. “So what we would like to do in the future is hopefully build an app that would help support schools and institutions as well as organizations where people could go to a place where they could have a wide range of options that they could donate to, and then they could contribute to the places which they connect with.”
All in all, Saket just wants to give back.
“Learning Quest allows me to not only give back to my community but also help solve a problem that is really prevailing in many different parts of the world, and it's a problem that needs to be addressed,” Saket says. “It's a problem that keeps going on in the loop with generations of these children who are stuck in poverty or stuck in socio-economic conditions where they lack education opportunities.”
“With Learning Quest what we're basically just trying to do is empower the next generation.”
At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.
Imagination Library. If you want to help Dolly’s organization distribute more books to kids consider donating.
The Trevor Project. They focus on suicide prevention and mental health support for queer youth. Support them here.
Kids In Distress. This organization supports kids at risk and families around the US. Find out more.