City professionals are increasingly taking a break from their jobs to impart quality education to children from low-income communities by being a part of various NGOs. Divesh Kumar, an engineering graduate from Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani, is a fellow with Teach for India (TFI) initiative and is teaching at a municipal school in the city.
It was not a one-day decision for him to join this movement. In college, he was working with an NGO called Dream a Dream which focuses on developing life skills through its plethora of after-school programmes.
“I wanted to be a part of the current education system and eliminate inequity. Just after completing my engineering, I joined the Teach for India fellowship. There was a month-long initial rigorous training where one is not only exposed to the idea of teaching but also to the current education system,” says Kumar.
Chaitali Sheth, city director, Teach for India, says, this nationwide education model has been a success because the youth today are socially-inclined. “These young professionals have a strong passion and they are working within the system to make that change. This is just like another freedom movement and TFI is the first step towards eliminating the inequity in education,” she says.
Ishpreet Bhatia, 28, who was working as a project lead with Infosys for five-and-a-half years, decided to seek satisfaction through teaching. Soon after completing her engineering in IT from Bharati Vidyapeeth College in 2004 she joined Infosys. After working in Pune for the first two years, she moved to Atlanta in the US and worked there for three years. “My life had become stagnant. I had two things on my mind—one was higher studies and the other was working in the social sector. I was more curious to know about the current education sector and wanted to be a part of the education system at the grass-root level,” says Ishpreet.
So it did not take much thought before she decided to join the TFI programme. “When I joined TFI, I used to think it’s no big deal but when we actually got into the technicalities of teaching, it was not easy. You have to not only make lesson plans but also need to understand the children’s psychology, what background they come from and what their parents think.”
There is a spark on every fellow’s face and all have come out of their comfort zones to be a part of this movement. Archana Bhat, who worked with Axis Bank before joining this movement and is now a TFI fellow says, “There is so much satisfaction in working for the children and giving them the opportunities to learn. We need to think and plan strategies and continuously aim at improving their performance.”
A brush with the education sector has turned many of these youngsters into believers. Kumar for instance sums it up by saying, “After my experience in teaching, I would love to continue working in the social sector—it is a powerful tool of change. It could be anything, if not just teaching.”