Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Teach For India

Hey all,

Below is a clipping from Times of India's teach for India program selection for this year.

Teach For India is currently accepting applications for its 2010 Fellowship.Teach For India is a nationwide movement that aims to end the educational inequity by creating a powerful force of leaders in many sectors who will advocate for educational opportunity for all children.To create this leadership force, they recruit only India's most outstanding college graduates and young professionals, from all academic majors and careers, to teach for two years in under-resourced schools. They look for people who live for a challenge, who excel academically, who believe India can be a better nation for all its citizens.As teachers in classrooms, Fellows have multiple opportunities to confront and tackle challenges, motivate diverse stakeholders to work hard toward a shared vision, create and adjust plans to move further towards their goals and gain the confidence they need to succeed.

Every Teach For India Fellow has two main responsibilities, through which he/she learns leadership skills in a hands-on, results-driven environment. 1.Classroom Instructional Leadership & 2. School Transformation/Leadership Project.Teach For India Fellows will be paid a stipend of Rs. 15000 per month and will be given a housing allowance along with an allowance for school supplies.Teach For India Fellows are placed in 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th standard classrooms where they teach all major subjects — including mathematics, reading, history and science — with the exception of languages.

More here

However I was wondering how many of us or how many of outstanding college graduates and young professionals, from all academic majors and careers, that they want to select from would actually seriously apply for this. At this stage in life where everyone has invested significant amount of time and effort into building their careers, the above cause has only two implications: Philanthropy and Making your profile look very good in case you want to apply for something related to social entrepreneurship or public policy at a later stage in life.

In case anyone is actually considering the above as an option, kindly post it out here or let me know on, 'coz its been a long time I came across any person who's done a thing like this.


A few days back I had to go to my native village a few 100 kms from our campus. I was conducting lab sessions for computer programming and it was 7:30pm by the time I was done with them. It started raining cats and dogs the moment I came out of the Computer Centre, to be followed by me having no umbrella. I just managed to get one from someone and was trying to rush out of the campus, when I saw a guy trying to run in the rain. I offered him my umbrella. We shared the umbrella finally, and walked out of the campus gate. The umbrella did not provide much resistance to the strong monsoons and we both were getting wet anyway. We started a conversation : He was a guy working for the past 4 months at the saloon on campus. He asked me about what students do on campus and I tried explaining it in the simplest possible way. He started speaking about his schooling; that he never took it seriously and dropped out before he could complete anything significant. I tried telling him about Abhigyaan@BITS but deep withing me I knew he was helpless. He said if he started studying, there wouldn't be anything to eat at home. The contrast between the two of us was same as that between BITS Pilani Goa Campus and the Zari slum dwellings on the other side of the road. He lived at Chicalim and we boarded the bus. He paid my fare on insistence and at Chicalim stop took me to a tea shop and sponsored me some tea and snacks. I couldn't find out more about him 'coz I had to travel far and there weren't any buses left.

Later that night loitering at panjim bus stand I came across several people like him who are now used to the way they live. Hapless, helpless and yet happy? There's no 'Audacity of Hope' as Barack Obama puts it, as there's nothing more they wish then to survive; life is what happens everyday to them. I saw it as later in the night I had to hitch hike along North Goa's Coastal belt from Betul, candolim, anjuna, baga, calangute, shiroda and finally Mandrem. There was just one guy in the bus who knew how to read English and helped the tourists who had boarded the wrong bus. Goa has close to 100% literacy and yet this is the real situation. Do we have a solution or are we the solution?

That's one after a looong time!

Pratik Mandrekar