A transformative experience

PARAS ARORA’S internship at Teach for India helped him become an activist

In the words of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, “Education is the only way to liberation.”

I had learnt by rote, this quote from my Class VIII social studies textbook without understanding the meaning of ‘liberation’. It was not that I did not want to know the meaning of the word, but it was the fear of asking. Even six years later, I’m still stuck on ‘liberation’. Where is liberation?

I am a second-year political science student from Hindu College and have been a critic of the education system. During a reverie about changing the system, I saw Teach for India’s new notification on an opening for ‘Classroom Subordinate Internship Program 2016’. The internship entailed working at a government school for a month as a teaching assistant. Soon after filling the form, I got an email confirming that my application had been accepted and I was invited for a group discussion.

I was given a sheet with situation-based questions on the crises that Teach for India (TFI) teachers face regularly, such as, “What would you do if this was to happen in school/first day of internship?” I answered the questions by way of crisp and concise pointers. This was followed by a group discussion on the answers we had written. The interview involved discussions on the interplay of economic background and education.

After attending an arduous training session with experienced TFI fellows, the big day arrived — my first day on the job. I entered a school which was in a shambles. A few students smiled at me. A TFI fellow introduced me to the vice-principal and the students. I could feel the sense of responsibility rising within me.

In that month, I realised how difficult it was to be a teacher, especially a government school teacher. Managing 90 students in a small room, with barely functional fans and no ventilation, was one of the many challenges I faced.

I was not the only one teaching; many a time, the children also taught me a few lessons.

Teach for India soon transitioned into Learn from India for me. And this was the last and the most important part of my internship — experience. No matter how prestigious an internship might be, what stays with us perpetually is the experience. For me, TFI was an opportunity to be much more than an armchair critic. It provided me a chance to be an activist who, with the help of others, can assist in bringing a revolution which would ensure that every child gets quality education and opportunities. This hope to make a difference has kept me going.

The writer is a second-year Political Science (Hons.) student at Hindu College.


Many people don’t have land and opportunities in our country but in ‘my’ country, this won’t be the scenario.

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