Hyderabad Education

Aikaarthya, St. Francis College: a step beyond the texts

Making a differenceAt an activity as part of Aikaarthya; founder Pooja Agarwal

Making a differenceAt an activity as part of Aikaarthya; founder Pooja Agarwal  

Aikaarthya, a social outreach project founded by St. Francis College alumni Pooja Agarwal, has business students solving problems in a unique way

Business on a grass-root level boils down to problem solving in a community. As students learn various facets of business management in their courses, not often does this definition match up to what they end up doing on the field.

Pooja Agarwal, the founder of a social outreach project Aikaarthya in St. Francis College for Women, Begumpet, aims to bridge this gap. She didn’t find many volunteers coming forward when she began her bid to help underprivileged children find their identity. She realised she had to make it a fun experience and correlate the same to the business management lessons that one learns at college to draw in more volunteers; the approach worked and now, many volunteers are bringing a change to several under-privileged sections across the city in their own little ways.

She adds, “The idea was to help members find their passion, design their own project and help them reach an orphanage, conduct workshops and community visits to solve problems.” That half of the country lacks basic access to facilities related to health, education and energy motivated Pooja to start Aikaarthya. “Business studies teaches us about identifying problems and solving them. The project has a member spending enough time with the community they’re a part of, identify problems, discuss it with a Teach For India mentor and take the next step.”

Aikaarthya, St. Francis College: a step beyond the texts

Students, as part of the project, spend a minimum of 15 hours with the community each week and have a plan in place to organise their workshop and understand how the children are to benefit out of it. “This began a couple of years ago when I was a student of St. Francis and the current batches helping our cause is a big boost,” she adds. The theoretical aspects of business course is routed to the planning of the projects here. Children from various communities come together on the final day of the three-month programme, showcasing their talent on the stage — from music to dance, yoga to art and craft and gardening.

It’s not the students alone, at the end of a project the volunteers too get an opportunity to present their ideas to a panel that can invest on their idea. “I’ve started believing more in people; starting this initiative in college and having them partner with me helped me gain confidence. From an average turnout of about 30 students in the college to having about 120 volunteers making a difference, the idea is to create a ripple effect.” Even when volunteers teach, it’s about helping children find their area of interest. “It’s highly unlikely that what you teach might be interesting to everyone. When I teach theatre and a student is interested in drawing, I help them understand and design props for the stage.”

Aikaarthya translates to ‘unity of an idea’ in Sanskrit. True to the meaning, Pooja hopes the initiative reaches various colleges in the years ahead.

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Printable version | May 22, 2020 11:20:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/aikaarthya-a-step-beyond-the-texts-hyderabad-st-francis-college/article22295596.ece

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