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Teach ‘em, empower them

Posted February 8th, 2019, 10:29 AM IST

Teach ‘em, empower them

If a positive change is what you are looking for in the long run, there is no better way to go about it if not by imparting knowledge. Teaching.

In an attempt to bridge the gap of the 74.3 per cent literacy rate to a full 100 per cent, Chaitanya MRS and Lakshmi Manchu, an actor and producer, who started the Teach for Change initiative, are now creating an impact that is bound to shape the future of our country in a different manner. They have announced the national expansion of their literacy programme to bring quality education to millions of primary school children across government schools in India. The programme, already present in Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Vijaywada and Vizag, will now expand to Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Lucknow, successfully operating in eight cities. There are over 50-plus volunteers from Bengaluru who are a part of Teach for Change.

In a chat with the founder and volunteers of the organisation, we document their growth since its inception in 2014...

On what led to the formation of Teach for India, Chaitanya says, “Through our research, we found that a major issue that government schools are facing is the lack of literacy skills in primary school children. It was hampering their potential. This lead to the idea of Pega Teach For Change. We have increased our operations, substantially. We started with 10 schools, and today we are in about 300-plus schools with a large number of volunteers. We would like to make Teach For Change a large people’s movement and reach out to many more children. We are expanding to four new cities this academic year.”

The categories through which a child’s development is assessed is done by recognising a child’s ability to recognise an alphabet, later a word, and then making them familiar with sentences and sentence formations, and to finally be able to read a paragraph. The assessment shows that 70 per cent children in a Teach For Change classroom have moved up by at least one level in one academic year.

So how do the volunteers get selected? Chaitanya explains, “Once the volunteer applies through the website, we screen them to understand their commitment and seriousness. Once screened, they are put on a training programme and provided the required material to teach. They are then allocated to a neighbourhood government school to teach for one academic year. There are regular review meetings and assessments.”

To work selflessly, expecting nothing in return, to commit to such a noble cause is a deed that deserves compliments. Volunteers from Bengaluru share about their experiences with this programme.

Meena Mallavarapu, a retired English lecturer, says, “Teaching has been my passion since my childhood and it just had to continue. I got to know about Teach for Change through my sister who was already volunteering for them. I thought it was just the right thing for me. It was all about my interest for teaching and finding a platform. Having taught college students, teaching young children who are so energetic was a challenge but I made sure that they paid attention in class. I also found the school staff welcoming, which encouraged me even more to give it my best.”

Sharmila Arun, a homemaker and a part-time businesswoman found a platform to pursue her love for teaching through Teach for Change. Sharmila says, “I became a volunteer for the organisation because I’ve always loved teaching but could never pursue it as I had a business to handle. It was also a great way for me to give back to society, and create a meaningful impact. The children are benefitting a lot from it because the teachers in these government schools communicate in Kannada. Talking in English is something we motivate them to do. Moreover, the shortage in number of teachers causes them to not be able to pay as much attention to other aspects like discipline and grooming, which we can focus and cultivate in these students.”