In Dwarka Diaries from the words of Rahul Balkrishnan residence of Dwarka…
It was 31st May 2014. I had worked hard for this the whole year. It was me standing there, with my promotion letter in my hand. My new designation, an Area Manager in Noida Branch, bigger team, bigger office, bigger cabin and an even bigger salary.
“If nothing ever changes, there’d be no butterflies”- Unknown
So the change did happen. I left my very ‘lucrative’ position in ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company Ltd on 2nd June 2014 and I had joined Teach for India, well for the butterflies. You know the same butterflies that fluttered when I had step foot in Xavier Labor Research Institute or the way it is famously called XLRI, Jamshedpur in July 2007. A welcome change. A change which I would never regret.
Teach for India is a place, a platform where you experience the real India. An India which is prevalent everywhere. Prevalent right near your neighborhood. Watching new channels everyday made me feel sick. I used to hear people around me talking about the negative things happening in our country and stating that it is something we need to learn to start living with. Some go overboard and scapegoat our ministers and politicians.
So I began my journey inside my classroom on 20th July 2014. My 40 grade-2 kids lying in wait for their new Bhaiya, or rather their first Bhaiya. Challenges were aplenty. It did not take me a long time to realize that these kids can’t even identify English Alphabets. The truck loads of frustration followed. Extra classes, Parent Teacher Interventions, Red pen became my favourite colored pen as I pushed the kids to strive more for themselves and they pushed themselves even more. And suddenly the kids started speaking in English and they even started pinpointing, “Bhaiya, why are you speaking in Hindi”? And that’s where I saw the real transformation. A real change, a real vision for India. A thought came to my head, what if one of the kids in my classroom becomes our Prime Minister? What kind of Prime Minister am I developing? And my whole thought process came together.
This is an image of a writing piece which one of the girls in my class, Archana wrote. The topic for the essay given to her was, “If you become a Super-Hero, who would you be?” Archana wrote that she would want to become a ‘FEMINIST GIRL’ who would be propagating Feminism and how people should be treating girls and boys as one, as equal, because as Archana states, girls and boys both can do anything.
This is the value system that India needs and this can only and only be built inside classrooms.
“Don’t limit your challenges. Challenge your limits”.
India currently is suffering from high levels of poverty, unemployment, crimes. The list goes on and the words never end. But after joining the fellowship I realized that education is the answer to all the problems listed above and not listed above. India is talked about being the youngest in all of our PM’s speeches and how India is the hub for any investor. That implies one more thing, that if our so called young population is not imparted the right education then all this ‘India dream’ will come crashing down to earth in another couple of decades.
As a fellow, I realized what real educational equity is. In India a child’s worth is decided by his birth. If a child is born in a well to do rich family he ends up getting all the facilities while a kid born in a poor family ends up going to a government/low income school and he is ends failing his education, then family, and then the whole society. I as a fellow am impacting lives 40 children in my class. I ensure there is no educational equity within my classroom. I ensure ALL THE CHILDREN in my class gets the best education. I invested their parents in my strive for excellence in the classroom. I invested my principal in my strive for excellence. I will invest all the stakeholders within my children’ ecosystem to ensure they get quality education and I have not stopped.
“I and my 4 colleagues who teach the same grade as I do in other schools started a project within Teach for India Delhi called ‘MISSION 2018’. The mission of Mission 2018 is that ‘By 2018 all children in Teach For India classrooms will be at grade level’, i.e. no kid will be left out academically which will ensure the kids will be able to access education the way they want to and lack of basic reading proficiency will not exist amongst our kids.”