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When techies turn teachers

Infosys team with students

Infosys team with students   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

“Some of them sneaked out of classrooms during a lesson. But it was fun,” laughs Sreedevi Pillai, while talking about her classes in spoken English for students of Government LP School, Manvila. For two-and-a-half months, she, along with her daughter Sanjana Nair, used to teach at the school every Saturday. “We interacted with the children through games, plays and books,” says Sreedevi, an employee with Kefi Tech Solutions in Technopark. Sreedevi also works with a voluntary group working in the IT hub.

Sreedevi Pillai with students of LP School, Manvila

Sreedevi Pillai with students of LP School, Manvila   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Teaching is one way of giving back to society, say many professionals in Technopark. They take classes in schools, shelter homes and NGOs, either as a group or on an individual basis. While some do it as part of their company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme, the others work via voluntary groups.

Anjana Sankaran, an employee with IBS, works with children in shelter homes and has been teaching mathematics at one of the centres run by an NGO for over two years now. “The classes are on Saturdays. The sessions do not repeat what the children are taught in their schools. Some students in high school classes need help with basic maths, especially subtraction, multiplication and division. So we have our task cut out,” says Anjana.

Anjana Sankaran

Anjana Sankaran   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Empowering children

For Rejeesh S, employed with an MNC, his Sunday mornings are spent with a group of children at his home town near Mavelikkara. “I initiated this four years ago when I noticed how many children from economically backward families lacked a guide or a mentor,” he says. He helps the students tackle English, computer, science, general knowledge and mathematics. “I don’t follow any syllabus. For example, in a class for English, I introduce them to new words, usage and grammar. In the case of maths, I teach them easy methods to crack problems, like those aplenty in Vedic mathematics,” says Rejeesh. While he makes it a point to be there every week, in his absence, his mother, Jagadamma A, a former teacher, steps in.

Techies with students of Agastya Samskarika Kendram, Pothode

Techies with students of Agastya Samskarika Kendram, Pothode   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Members of the Technopark wing of Vivekananda Study Circle (VSC), a voluntary organisation, travel twice a month to be with students of Agastya Samskarika Kendram, Pothode, near Kottur. “We have been going there for the last three years, usually on the third and fourth Saturdays of every month,” says Praveen Kumar PV, a member of VSC.

Members of Vivekananda Study Circle at Agastya Samskarika Kendram, Pothode

Members of Vivekananda Study Circle at Agastya Samskarika Kendram, Pothode   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The team uses teaching aids in their classes. “Songs, stories and other activities keep the children engaged. On the days we take classes, we also have lunch with the children,” he adds.

At Infosys, Vijnana, one of the initiatives of Sanjeevani Charitable Trust, the CSR group of the company, conducts the teaching sessions. “We have been doing this for the last nine years without a break. Every academic year, we identify schools or NGOs where our team takes classes on weekends,” says Sreejith B, chief coordinator of the Trust. The team is split into groups comprising three to four members. At present, they are taking classes in three government schools and an NGO. The sessions don’t include the regular school syllabus. “We cover subjects such as English and also personality development, career guidance, soft skills, general knowledge, Malayalam poetry, stories and games. We have had sessions on art, craft and observational astronomy,” he elucidates.

As part of a study tour, the children were taken to the Infosys campus, space museum at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and a printing press. “We also hold talent showcase workshops to promote cultural activities that the children are interested in,” he adds.

Computer class for Kudumbasree workers

Computer class for Kudumbasree workers   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

It’s not just school children that the professionals empower. Members of VSC trained Kudumbasree workers in Manvila to use computers last year and are all set to train another group. Arunkumar Vamadevan, who was in the team, says: “It was not easy. The women were in the age group of 30 to 50-plus. We had to start from scratch, that is, we had to teach some of them how to switch on and shut down the computer because they were scared to even use the machine. We framed a syllabus, covering computer fundamentals, MS word, Excel, power point presentation and use of internet and email. They were also trained to do online transactions, especially paymentof utility bills.”

These professionals are proud about doing their bit for the society. “When I see children in shelter homes, I realise how lucky I was at their age. Life has been hard on them and so we do our best we can to make things slightly better for them. It is a learning experience,” says Anjana. Well, it’s all about making a difference.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 12:52:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/how-techies-are-turning-teachers/article26268151.ece

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