The failing education system of India is no more a secret, at least not to the Indians. We as parents never stop cribbing how education too has gone politicised and corrupted in our country. However, there are rare few who’d come up with some efforts to go against the tide and help our ‘failing education system.’
Well, among those rare few, who do decide to stop cribbing, take charge and do something to bring about changes, is Soumya Jain, from Pune, a software engineer from NIT Nagpur, who then landed at Penn State University for his master’s degree, post which worked in the US for the next four years, totally in love with his profession. Although he was quite settled in the US, something from back home irked him constantly, evident from his words, “I just didn’t feel like I was doing anything to serve our country.”
And all this brought iTeach to reality.
Soumya explained how. He “saw educational inequity as the biggest barrier to our country’s progress and to the development and economic mobility of our people and felt like being a part of the solution. This started as a small nagging thought in my mind, which, over a few months, kept bothering me,” which continued till he knew what exactly was irking him all this while. Finally, he ‘decided to act on it and applied for the Teach For India Fellowship program. It was a huge risk to divert from my career path but the fact that it was a global organization affiliated to Teach For All and the immense progress they seemed to already have made in such a short period of time gave me faith.’
Committed though he was, he never had an idea what a sea of changes will Teach For India will bring him. Within a month being accepted into the fellowship programme for 2013-15, he realised what he meant for and also that the journey forward won’t be easy. However, he decided to stay and kept teaching the kids. Gradually, this engineer, who came from a corporate background, realised that he ‘lacked the ability to empathize with people. My approach was clinical with expectations above understanding. I remember coming in with the mindset of wanting to fix everything that the existing governmental school system was doing wrong and I soon realized that approach was getting me nowhere.’
His colleagues at Teach For India were highly supportive, from whom he gradually learnt to empathize towards his students and school, learnt new management skills, etc to help his students benefit more. By the time, his fellowship came to an end, he had a firm decision ‘to remain in the education sector and continue my fight against inequity in education. Once that was settled, it was just a question of how best I could leverage my strengths towards that end.’ And thus the formation of iTeach, with Soumya getting together with one of his colleagues, Prashant Mehrishi, to penetrate and crush the education crisis. He further explained how they made public-private partnership for schools work, bringing under-training teachers provide education to the needy students.
Although it has just been around a year since iTeach, Soumya, however, has his priorities set, starting right from creating a better school culture, to bringing in investments and teachers, etc, everything leading towards a betterment of needy students. Yet, he realises how tough it will to bridge the gap and also that it will be an entire generation before this gap could actually be bridged.
The idea behind?
A rich India with its main power lying in every citizen. Yeah, it will surely take time, and a lot more of efforts, from a lot many people. But with people as dedicated as Soumya and Prashant, and many more coming back to India, leaving their lucrative jobs behind, we surely can visualise a successful dream!
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