By Raj Nayan Datta:
In a country of 1.2 billion, there would undoubtedly remain unsolved issues, and staggering limitations. But when those lurking problems pose a serious challenge to a nation’s development, it really presents a grave danger. One such elephant in the room is a lack of education.
With about 39% students dropping out of schools before completing elementary education, the country faces a challenge of growing unskilled labour. The reasons are many. Poverty, poor academic performance, substandard teaching, migration and need for employment to support the family are major factors behind the higher dropout rate of the boys, say experts.
What if they get retained in the schools, and move on to complete their education? What if they resist the forces to quit studies, instead carry on to reach greater academic success?
All these “What ifs” motivated Abhyuday, the social body of IIT Bombay to reach out to the economically backward students, mainly centered around Mumbai, and assist them in their quest towards further education by leading a city-wide initiative, called ‘Career Counselling Campaign (CCC)’.Abhyuday, the social body of IIT Bombay to reach out to the economically backward students, mainly centered around Mumbai, and assist them in their quest towards further education by leading a city-wide initiative, called ‘Career Counselling Campaign (CCC)’.
A group of mentors, entirely pooled from the student community of IIT Bombay, visit these schools and takes sessions where the students are told more about the possibilities of continuing education, different career paths that they might take up after education, and the bright future prospects that they have with proper schooling.
The volunteers who mentor these kids have their own experiences to share. Says Surbhi Sahu, a 2nd year undergraduate at IIT Bombay, “It feels great when you can contribute even a little in transforming the society. It has been an amazing experience and it taught me many things. I am glad that I have been given the opportunity to teach children.” When asked more why she feels this initiative is of prime importance, she replies, “Education is the need of the hour. Every child has the right to education but everyone is not as lucky as us. Even a little step from each one of us can create a huge impact on the society and transform the life of many children.”
Launched in 2015, we are well on our course to cover the maximum possible schools in the city. Some of the areas where we have reached include Bhandup, Vikhroli and as far as Panvel.
Another such initiative by Abhyuday IIT Bombay to spread education and learning as far as possible, is called ‘Lend Your Voice (LYV)’. The mission is to enable access to learning materials for visually impaired students.
The idea is to record audio-books, so that learning process will be made easy for the visually impaired students. This initiative started in 2014, and till now, we have recorded quite a few number of books. Recording books is not as easy as it may seem, and it is evident from the words of the IIT Bombay students who had volunteered for this cause.
Says Anirudh Reddy, “We need to first study what the book is about so that we can read out our part properly and get our characters right. If we make a mistake we have to edit the recording, read conveying emotions through your voice etc. it was a daunting task in our first week. It took nearly 5 hours to totally complete a recording which was only one and half hour long.” Recalls Sai Teja, “I thought the work was easy, which was not the case. Not even close to easy.”
So why did these young students join LYV?
Anirudh also explains, “Have you ever wondered after going for a movie that if you didn’t have eyes, would you have enjoyed the show? I always felt that I was gifted to have all my senses working. Especially my eyes. It gives me immense pleasure that I have been able to help someone.” We could not have agreed more with him.
Was it easy at the beginning? Obviously not. There are many problems with that. Inexperience is one such thing. But the greater goal kept these young students going. “The most important treasure that we students have is knowledge. It’s a treasure that increases if shared. Yes they (the visually impaired students) have special books, but there are not so many of such books and are not so cheap either,” sums up Reddy.
So how does it feel to have recorded a book, after all the toil? Says Rohit Jenna, “After hours of narrating and editing, I made my first audiobook by sitting in the mess after midnight.” Sai Teja has something more to add to it, “The feeling after completing a good book, I felt that even people who are blind also should know how it feels to which I think I helped. Maybe my contribution was negligible but I contributed to it. I feel happy about it.”
Asked about what they are doing now, Rohit promptly said, “Now I’m working on my third assignment which is a 50-page long assignment to record.”
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