Changing India – one class at a time

Only if the people have education, they have good health, they have infrastructure, they have roads to go to work, they have lights to study at night –only in those cases can you really get the benefit of a demographic dividend. In other words, if you don’t really invest in the human capital, the same demographic dividend can be a demographic disaster – Nandan Nilekani in Imagining India.

Two years of quality work that has a real, positive impact on the most important asset of our nation – human capital.

This is what Teach for India is all about – young professionals taking sabbaticals from their careers to take up teaching assignments in Municipal schools in Pune and Mumbai. The TFI Fellows are equipped with good training, modern teaching methodologies and most importantly the desire to work with children. Make no mistake – it is not an easy job and you need loads of patience and perseverance.

Sarika is a friend who has been doing an excellent job as a TFI Fellow as the class-teacher of Class 3 at the Shantabai Ladakat school at Nanapeth, Pune. Sarika and Gunavant, her co-teacher are doing a brilliant job of understanding the children’s needs and addressing them, whatever be the trouble/administrative hassle they face. In a school where basic amenities like toilets and benches are difficult to arrange, library books for children are obviously a luxury. Sarika and Gunavant have addressed their need for library books by subscribing to the offline library service from Tender Leaves.
The model we follow is to give them a set of 100 books and replace them every 3 months. The spread of the genres depends on the reading comprehension levels of the children in the class (e.g. picture books for those who are at the very basic level, then graduating to picture story books to short stories from Children’s Book Trust and Amar Chitra Katha comics). Sarika and Gunavant run a Library period every Wednesday and it is a big hit with the children. In December, we also did a story-telling event at her class where the children told their favourite story from the books we gave them. The children had lot of fun and Sarika thought there was a marked improvement in the confidence levels and ability to speak in English. We will soon upload the videos from that event on this blog.
We’d love to help out more such schools – the library model works out better than donations. E.g. If you give Rs. 10,000/- as a donation to spend on books, you might be able to purchase say 100 books (@ an average price of Rs. 100/- per book). Under the Special Discount Offer for TFI, we provide the library service to Sarika @ Rs. 10/- per book per month. In the 10 months of the academic year, she spends the same amount of Rs. 10,000/- but she gets 400 books – it not only works out to be more economical but the children get a continuous supply of books all through the year.

So we have two happy campers in Sarika and Gunavant. And when we see the children putting the books to good use, we feel we are also doing our bit towards changing India – one class at a time.

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