Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Why should you do the Teach for India fellowship

We like to complain a lot. 

All of us complain multiple times in a day and if we look at what all we complain about, there are trends to it. We complain about the traffic, how insensitive people have become, how corrupt our society has become or how our education system is completely screwed. 

I was someone who kept complaining about the education system because when I joined college, I felt like my schooling had done nothing to prepare me for the real world. Unfortunately neither does college. We are just a bunch of machines which our factories churn out. Quality education, if I can call it that, has become more and more exclusive instead of being inclusive. 

The percentage of our children who get access to a quality education is reducing everyday. My definition of quality education is unfortunately very very basic and we still miss the mark by a lot. Quality education, at a minimum, would entail, being taught something new by a teacher everyday and learning how to use those knowledge and skills in real life. 

Majority of our children don't get it even this basic education. I am not even going into the quality of teachers or the infrastructure of the school or the extra-curricular activities. Unfortunately for our country, those things are a luxury. 

So yes, I complained about how the education system, which according to me is the corner stone of everyday society which wants to prosper, is well and truly screwed. 

On day, one of my teachers or someone I worked with, shared a photo which read "What are you doing about it?

That question hit me really hard. I couldn't figure why this question bothered me so much. I then related it to my complains about the education system and that's when my journey began. I started looking around for things that would give me an opportunity to contribute in some way to improving or atleast trying to improve the quality of education. I interned with the education department of my state and then one day, by chance met Shaheen Mistri, the CEO of Teach for India. She is inspirational to say the least. 

I was intrigued by the proposition of the fellowship and surprised at how no one else had tried this before. Two years after that meeting, I became eligible to apply for the fellowship and I was on my way to being a Teach for India fellow. 

I did not fully understand what that meant at that time. I read a lot about the fellowship, visited classrooms run by TFI fellows and ended up doing the fellowship. 

I am not exaggerating when I say, it was one of the best decision of my life and those two years have been the most satisfying years of my life. 

I taught an amazing bunch of 90 students in their 7th and 8th grade. I think I learned more I taught. I became a lot more aware about the challenges that the education sector faces. I got on the ground updates of different aspects of the sector. I got a chance to get my hands dirty and got amazing guidance while I was doing it. 

I realized a few things over the two years of the fellowship:

1. Every child has potential to do great things. Every. Single. Child. 
2. The assumptions we have about education sector are sometimes way off for eg, government teachers are lazy, infrastructure solves most problems . 
3. Income inequality and societal equality can only be reduced if we reduce the inequality in opportunities that are accessible to the student. 
4. Never to go in with the assumption that everything needs to be changed.
5. Understand others before trying to make them understand. 
6. Empathy is my best friend. 
7. Every child deserves unconditional love. 
8. Everything is possible.

These are eight random points that come to my mind when I think about the things I have learned. I am sure I have learned a lot more. It keeps coming to me when I dealing with different kind of situations in life. Its funny how teaching a bunch of kids in class can teach you so much and have such a great impact on your life. 

All of this and you get to put your own small dent in the education sector. Teach for India is one of the only organized, well planned and structured way to get involved in the education space in the country. 

Do it only if you want to. No one should push you to do something like this. The fellowship is very hard and will take a lot out of you. It will make you cry and make you laugh at the same time. It will break you emotionally but will end up making you stronger. You can't go through all this just because someone convinced you to do it. You must want to do the fellowship. 

The next time someone asks me,"Why should I do the Teach for India fellowship?" 

My answer to them would be,

 "Why not?"


_______________________

The fellowship application form can be accessed here.

I am running the Mumbai Marathon to raise funds for Teach for India, please consider donating. The money will go straight to the Teach for India account and you will get a tax exemption certificate for the donation. To donate, go to the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon page.





3 comments:

  1. This is great for teachers. I can see many schools that are not accredited and I would advise principals to get these schools accredited from International Accreditation Organization so that students get certificates that are acceptable all over the world.

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  2. If I had the chance to stand with you and lend my services for better future for children, I would have offered all my help. Still I would like to donate to the foundation for better future.

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