A new breed of teachers is bringing the magic back to schools.
Statistics suggest that eight million children are not even enrolled in primary education and 42 per cent of those who are drop out before they get to the next class. Children in low income schools test two or three grade levels below their well-to-do counterparts. Neglect indifference and callousness are the norm in thousands of government schools. But a few young people have stepped up to make a change, and their conviction seems to have caught the imagination of young India, as thousands of fresh graduates and working professionals join them to provide quality education.
This 350-strong team works with 300 schools across 80 cities in India, the Middle East and Nepal. “It is simple, we want children to play,” says Saumil Majmudar, CEO and co-founder. The idea is to make sports an integral part of every child’s education and upbringing.
A casual remark by a friend about his six-year-old son not engaging in enough physical activity set Saumil thinking. There were hardly any healthy social avenues for children to stay fit. The most sustainable and scalable way to address this issue is by working with schools.
“Edusports (founded in 2009) provides a structured PE and Sports programme to the institution. We stay close to the ground and see how things work at schools.”
Edusports ensures the same best practices that exist in the classrooms are also implemented on the play ground. It develops curriculum in-house, tailoring it to the infrastructure and class sizes of the respective schools.
Helen O' Grady Drama School
With a presence in 400 schools across India, this academy uses drama to impart communication skills, body language, articulation, interpersonal skills and creativity. They engage students in activities that are fun and also develop social skills and self-esteem. “Helen O’ Grady is the world’s largest after-school drama programme. Our teachers are trained to be positive and empathetic individuals who can motivate students and encouraging them to think creatively,” says Arpita, CEO, Helen O’ Grady Drama Academy. Informally, in many cities, Helen O’ Grady teachers interact with low income group schools through programmes and workshops. “Drama, story telling, mimicry, dance and song are our teaching aids and intellectual and emotional empowerment of the child is our goal. All our kids are stars.”
Eureka Child Foundation
This after-school initiative of Aid India was founded in 2011. “The quality of education in rural areas leaves a lot to be desired. Even after five years of schooling, more than 50 per cent of the children are unable to read a simple paragraph in Tamil,” rues Dr. A. Ravishankar, Director-Coordinator. “Our after-school programme benefits 25,000 disadvantaged children in 600 villages across Tamil Nadu. Our teachers are typically young adults, who have finished Std. XII. More than 80 per cent are women from the village. We have more than 1800 tutors at the village level, and their commitment is phenomenal. We would like to work with other like-minded organisations to take important elements of this programme to other places. We aim to ensure that there is a constant focus on learning outcomes. Our vision is that the dream of poor parents to ensure good quality education for their children is fulfilled.”
Hippocampus Reading Foundation
They work with more than 400 schools and communities across nine states. “We want to inspire children to read more,” says Umesh Malhotra CEO.
Hippocampus Reading Foundation (established in 2004) sets up reading rooms and libraries in schools and communities and improves existing libraries across the country. Hippocampus also partners with the global NGO ‘Room to Read’. “We adapt the reading programme for the requirements and skill set of the respective schools and communities,” Umesh says. Hippocampus has a programme called ‘Grow By Reading’, that is now available in five languages.
Make a Difference
About 2000 young volunteers work with 5000 children, children in orphanages, street shelters and juvenile homes, across 23 cities. Young college students and working professionals devote their weekends to Make A Difference (MAD). “These teachers are given rigorous training in delivering effective learning in an interactive and fun manner,” says Jithin C. Nedumala, Co-Founder and CEO. More than teaching, these teachers are expected to be role models for the children, most of whom lack such a figure in their lives. The children are routinely brought into contact with high achievers and professionals and this has often stopped them from dropping out of school. MAD is now focussing on improving infrastructure, facilitating college education and implementing more programmes.
Teach for India
This organisation, founded in 2007, has 730 Fellows working with 23,000 children in 633 classrooms of 209 government and low-income private schools across five cities. “We believe that every child is entitled to excellent education, regardless of his or her socioeconomic, cultural or geographical background. Our experience shows that strong teaching and a firm grounding in the fundamentals is more important than infrastructure or other material ,” says Shaheen Mistri (Founder-CEO). “TFI is a nation-wide movement of the country’s most promising college graduates and young professionals who commit two years to teach full time in under-resourced schools. We believe deeply in the power of education as a catalyst for social change and are committed to working relentlessly to raising their students’ achievement levels, the learning environment in their classrooms and schools as well as the overall progress of the communities where the children live.”