By Pranav Sukhija:
In a country where education has been made free and compulsory for kids, the problems of rampant illiteracy and poor educational facilities are not just shameful, but also tragic. The government has invested so much for designing new models of education, building social and economic infrastructure to facilitate learning, and hiring and training manpower to spread the wonderful and life-transforming gift of knowledge. However, there is no doubt that we, as a nation, have failed in this endeavour, and have therefore failed our children, and are still failing them by depriving them of their birth right and their passport to success and happiness in life: education.
One visit to a government school or any under-resourced private school in any part of the country will give you an idea about the kind of learning which takes place in these institutes. Indifferent teachers spending the whole day in the staff room gossiping or doing some manual paper work is a sight that you are most likely to encounter. Children sitting idle in their classrooms, clueless of what they should be doing, feeling completely left out and neglected is another common sight.
It is evident that the major impediment in the education system of our country is the poor implementation of government policies and the violation of educational standards at the grassroots level. The greatest and the most noble service which the young generation of the country, at this juncture, can offer is its ability to teach and inspire billions of children, so as to add colours and sparks into their lives, and promote their healthy growth and development.
In today’s fast-paced world, where most people just care about wealth, power and fame, I feel glad that so many of the country’s brightest and most enthusiastic young men and women are channelizing their energies and resources to fight against educational inequity, which is highly endemic in our country, by working as primary school teachers in the most under-resourced schools of the country as fellows with Teach for India (TFI). TFI is a nation-wide movement of young leaders who dedicate two years of their lives by working as school teachers in high-poverty schools of the country. The fact that the youth feels so much our country, and understands that the key to economic development is educational equity deserves great appreciation and respect. This highlights the passion, the motivation, and the dedication of young India.
Till some time back, I used to think that schoolteachers lead an uncomplicated and relatively relaxed life. I was of this wrong notion that all they did in a day was go to school in the morning, come back by the afternoon, and then enjoy in the evening. However, now that I have become a schoolteacher, and have committed to transform the lives of the forty-five children in my classroom of an MCD school in New Delhi, I have realised that teaching is one of the most challenging, difficult, stressful, but at the same time, fulfilling and rewarding jobs in the world.
Since I teach in a school which caters to the needs of poor and under-privileged families, teaching such children is a much bigger challenge than teaching kids in affluent public and private schools. Since the parents of these children cannot afford to provide the best learning environment and resources to their children, I have to take up that responsibility within the classroom. Sometimes, I am also posed with unexpected and unpredictable challenges like children getting beaten up by their parents before being sent to study in the school. A lot of times my kids complain of sickness and hunger. Since most of the parents are uneducated, they often don’t realise the value of educating their children, and it becomes quite a challenge to make them understand why I am doing what I am doing.
I strive hard to make my classroom a happy and safe place for the kids, where they love reading, learning, problem-solving, playing and discovering. My classroom has its own theme- ‘High flyers’, I teach using the most innovative and interactive methods and techniques, and I constantly engage my kids by playing games with them, thereby making learning fun for them. But doing that is just not enough. I have to regularly invest in all the stakeholders that impact the kids, including the parents, such as the school principal, other teachers in school, community members and even their tuition teachers. All this requires a lot of grit, diligence and patience.
As leaders in the classroom, teachers have the great power to transform their children’s lives and make them better and more successful human beings by propagating the right knowledge, moral values and skills among the latter. And if you also strongly believe in TFI’s mission to transform the country by eliminating educational inequity, and have a genuine love for kids and want to see them grow as responsible students, team-workers, managers and individuals, this could be the right programme for you to get involved and make a transformational impact.
To apply for the Teach for India fellowship, visit http://www.teachforindia.org/. The last deadline to apply is 22 January’12.