This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Shevika Mishra. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

This Is Why Teachers Will Decide India’s Future

Every time I look back and think of when I was a child, there are always certain instances that keep coming back to me. A lot of these memories involve my school and teachers. In fact, my decision to take up economics after school was because my professor in school inspired me. She made the subject all too real and relevant by making it about the chaiwallah (tea-seller) outside the school, pushing us to think outside the box and see beyond just the theory.

We often underplay the impact teachers have on children, especially in their formative years. Many students carry what their teachers have told them for the rest of their lives.

India has over 40 lakh primary and middle school teachers that are in a position to directly influence 13.5 crore young minds. Why this matters is because a student in the class 10 today (who is 16 years old), will be eligible to vote in the next elections in 2019. Not only will their vote decide what government comes to power and what policies get implemented for the entire country, the student as a citizen is also an asset who will determine the course the country takes.

In such a scenario, it is imperative that the young people in our country learn how to be empathetic, think critically and be problem solvers, to be able to make the right decision for themselves and the country at large.

All of this is possible only if they have the right mentors to guide them. And while myriad problems plague the education sector, there are visible signs of change. Unsurprisingly, it is because of teachers being the change makers, equipping their students for the world of tomorrow.

At Muni International School, a private school in Uttam Nagar in Delhi, teachers have created a space where their students can apply and practise agency. Each student is made responsible for a 1 km radius around their house. This means that they will be accountable for whatever goes on in their allocated community. It may be something as small as littering or a water tank leaking, to children dropping out of school or any crime. The idea behind this is that every alert citizen can play a role in society and contribute towards its functioning by becoming an agent of change.

In Pune, Avasara Academy is a girls’ school set up to create women role models in communities across India. Through their leadership, entrepreneurship and Indian studies courses, each student is required to carry out a project in her basti. As a part of this project, through a process of interviews, she needs to identify a problem that is troubling people the most and work towards solving it. For example, a few girls realised that following superstitions blindly was a major challenge in their community. These girls came up with a dynamic presentation to bust those myths and superstitions in their basti and helped their community shed these harmful beliefs.

If one was to scale what these teachers are doing, it becomes evident that the students who walk out of their schools will be active participants in our democracy and become change makers in their own right. Even as institutions begin to fail us, it is these change makers who will take things into their own hands and determine the future. An example of this is the Right to Information Act that came into force in 2005 after mass mobilisation by civil society groups.

Today, it is possibly the most powerful tool in the hands of the people to hold their government accountable. Even a movement such as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan relies on the people to make it a success. And only when the students today, who would be adults and decision makers of tomorrow, have that inherent instinct to lead change, will these programs become successful.

Given the scale of the education challenge in countries like India, the governments today needs to realise the critical role teachers play and how as allies, both can take on the enormous task of nation building.

There have been some measures taken to start this journey. For example, the Delhi government has recently developed a Mentor-Teacher Program to build capacity amongst their teachers. Ashoka India partnered with the Department of Education and SCERT for national level exposure trips for these mentor-teachers which involved visiting seven academic institutions doing exemplary work across Karnataka, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Through such visits, interactions and exposure to new teaching methodologies, the aim was to expose these mentor-teachers to the best practices which can be passed on to other teachers.

Mentor Teachers at Digantar Vidyalaya, Jaipur

Not just that, the National Council for Teacher Training (NCTE) has also started two flagship initiatives ‘TeachR’ for prospective teachers and the ‘National Teacher Platform’ (NTP). TeachR is India’s first accreditation framework for certifying and ranking Teacher Education Institutions (TEI). Its focus is to move away from regulatory compliances and focus towards learning outcomes and the inputs needed. NTP, on the other hand, aims to arm ‘our teachers, our heroes’ with both curated and user rated resources that they can use to teach each topic, in each subject, in each grade and in each school.

In his budget speech this year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had indicated that the education sector needs to take a reform path. With teachers being the foot soldiers of this sector, it is crucial that we invest in them as change makers because what they teach today, will determine how the next generation thinks tomorrow.

Happy Teachers Day!

You must be to comment.

More from Shevika Mishra

Similar Posts

By Prasun Goswami

By Ankita Marwaha

By shakeel ahmad

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below