This post is written by Ankit Vyas, Teach for India Associate.
There is nothing more satisfying than having the opportunity to directly impact the lives of 50 children individually through education and the sense of possibility of this impact is what drives each Fellow at Teach For India.
What is Teach For India
It is a nationwide movement of outstanding college graduates and young professionals who will commit two-years to teach full-time in under resourced schools and who will become lifelong leaders working from within various sectors toward the pursuit of equity in education. It currently has 214 Fellows impacting 6500 children.
What is Teach For India’s model
Teach For India provides resources, training, and support to the young leaders recruited to the Fellowship so they can employ innovative teaching strategies and maximize their effectiveness in the classroom. During the two-years, Fellows gain important knowledge and experience of India’s educational system and its challenges, which enables them to provide solutions to problems faced within their classrooms and school communities.
Why Teach For India exists
Today, millions of low-income children in India do not have access to the same quality of education as their wealthier peers. As, a result more than one in three students will drop out of primary school before the fifth standard.
The Fellows of the movement
Teach For India Fellows are a diverse set- some coming after years of experience in industries ranging from investment banking to mining while others enthusiastic and fresh out of college. All of them share 2 basic qualities- a proven ability to lead and to overcome challenging and resource-constrained environments. To add to this is a common vision they believe in- that every child deserves an excellent education.
“Having received the best education myself, I understood the power of knowledge and the impact it can have on the society. From this stemmed the belief in the potential of these young untapped minds, which once equipped with knowledge can transform the fate of our nation.“
– Saurabh Taneja, Marketiks-WNS Group Company, IIT Delhi
Training to build teachers and leaders
A 5-week Training Institute is organised to prepare the Fellows for teaching in school. It is innovative, rigorous and tries to push every Fellow far beyond his comfort zone. On the first day of training, Fellows are dropped off into a community for 2 hours and told to connect with a child. Fellows undergo 4 weeks on-the-job training by teaching in summer school. By the time Institute is over, they are ready for school.
Fellows are encouraged to and they often visit the community their students live in, to get an understanding of the dynamics at home and the environment they come from. This understanding helps them tailor lessons to make them more relevant and interesting through offering examples pertaining to the daily occurrences in the children’s environment.
Setting high expectations and measuring impact
Teach For India Fellows teach in low-income schools where students are up to 3-4 grade levels below the actual standard they are placed in. Teach For India believes the only way to reduce the achievement gap between the students in these low-income schools and their more privileged peers is by setting very high expectations and measuring impact at every step of the way. Impact is measured by frequent diagnostics to test problem areas and improvement over time.
There has been an average increase of 1.2 years of English writing skills and reading fluency in the 2009-10 school year in Teach For India classrooms.
Setting high expectations has led to astounding feats by the students in these under-resourced schools. Three of the 2009 Fellows- Fiona, Vaibhav and Shahrukh set the immensely ambitious target of 200 books to be read per child per year. This was in a school where students had difficulty reading four-letter words. 70 days into the mission, 3 students have already cracked their target and many have exceeded their quarterly target by 200%. (Read the whole story on http://blog.scribblepad.in/2010/09/17/4-idiots–me-2.aspx)
Post the Teach For India Fellowship, Teach For India Fellows will work from within and across different sectors to advocate equity in education. This may be through involvement in corporate foundations to encourage funding, through working in the government to influence policies towards education equity or through working in other social organizations working to better education for the underprivileged. Through their efforts, they will ensure that one day, every child in India attains an excellent education.
4000 people applied for the Teach For India for the 2010 Fellowship last year. Are you ready for a challenge?
Apply for the 2011 Teach For India Fellowship on http://www.teachforindia.org/apply-now.php