Forget The Beaten Path, The Answer To India’s Education Crisis Lies In An All New Approach

Posted on January 22, 2016 in Education, Society

By Adithya Narayan

While previous generations of young adults had to pick between a financially viable job and a career in the social sector, today there are multiple opportunities for social change that are monetarily sustainable as well. India has also seen a steady rise within social entrepreneurship in the development space. These entrepreneurs are typically young, dynamic individuals who seek to find solutions to some of the most pressing issues that plague those who’re at the bottom of the social and financial pyramid in India. With multiple incubators like Villgro and UnLtd India stepping forward to offer support to these young change makers, social entrepreneurship has slowly begun to evolve as an exciting career option for the youth in India.

12523131_10153804800938449_6493827278713527105_nAfter years of battling the education crisis in India, it has become increasingly apparent that solving it is going to demand a lot more than the regurgitation of old solutions. It’s going to demand our most innovative and collaborative thinking – ideas that aspire to advance progress for our most disadvantaged children. Today, mere academic success isn’t enough to realize every child’s true potential.

Teach For India – a non-profit organization that believes in an excellent education for all children – believes that entrepreneurial ideas that could address existing problems in innovative ways and mobilize people and resources in the right way are necessary to fundamentally shift the status quo in education. In an effort to bring more youngsters face-to-face with real world problems within the education sector, Teach For India has launched the Innovation Weekend, Pune – an InspirED event that follows the format of a weekend-long marathon where multiple teams with participants from diverse backgrounds will come together to find innovative solutions to a local problem embedded within the education system of the city. Through a process of collaborative problem solving, the weekend not only provides youngsters an opportunity to use design thinking to solve real world problems, at the end of the weekend, the solutions will also be shared with the larger community working in the city.

This three-day event will be held between the 22nd – 24th January 2016 and will see college students, designers, corporates as well aspiring entrepreneurs in Pune coming together to answer the question posed to them – “How do we ensure high school students in Pune have the necessary knowledge, mindset and skills necessary for the 21st century?” For the overall purpose of the Innovation Weekend, the participants will be focusing their efforts on designing solutions for students from low-income communities in Pune.

Through a process of discussion and debate, participants (in 8 teams of 6 members each) will engage with the problem statement and delve into understanding the various factors that contribute to the problem at hand. They will speak to different external stakeholders to the education ecosystem and together brainstorm on possible solutions to the problem – subsequently moulding the same into a product, service or program. With the help of mentors, they will then design a functional business model for the same and present it to a panel of judges that includes Meher Pudemjee (Chairperson – Thermax), Sheetal Bapat (Founder – Shyamchi Aai Foundation) and Joseph Cubas (Head, Research and Planning – Avasara Academy) among others.

Over the course of the year, Teach For India plans to take this format to other cities across the country. Watch this space for more updates as the Innovation Weekend in Pune unfolds!

Teach For India’s Fellowship program places outstanding working professionals and college graduates as Fellows – who work full-time for two years in low-income & under-resourced schools teaching underprivileged kids. Applications to the 2016-18 Teach For India Fellowship program are now open. Application Deadline: 2nd February 2016