It all happened over a cup of coffee and a brainstorming session in Mumbai. Sometimes the best ideas are born in cafes over ‘adda’ sessions. Paathshala was no different. A brainchild of Rajib Choudhary and Sonal Seth, Paathshala found its roots in 2012.
Thinking out of the box
It is an organisation working towards making a difference in the field of learning, education and skill development in semi-urban and rural areas. Both Rajib Choudhary and Sonal Seth, worked in the corporate world and felt the urge to contribute back to society.
Says Rajib, “We considered our corporate experience and thought about what was hurting us the most. We felt that there is a clear gap in our education system and the requirements of the corporate world. So we decided to put together our programs for schools and colleges. Our learning and development programs are rooted in the simple belief that true learning is possible only when it touches the core belief system of the individual.”
And people who have been touched by Paathshala will vouch for that.
“I can’t express how it feels when you gain confidence and realize that you are overcoming all the hurdles.” – Abolee
“I lost all my fear of speaking in English in front of an audience, even I can speak a few sentences on any topic given to me on the spot.”- Aditi
“After attending Paathshala, I don’t think learning should be a skill, I think, it should be a habit and they helped us build that habit!” – Aniket
Abolee, Aditi and Aniket are college students from Baramati in Maharastra and all of them have attended and benefited from the classes of Paathshala.
The curriculum of change
Paathshala focuses on inculcating value education, competency development and life skills among children. Since 2012 it has been working with the aim of addressing three basic needs in the education sector- need for Value education in schools in current society, need for improving employability and professional skills in college students and need for improving teacher quality. To cater to these needs, Paathshala has designed, developed and implemented a slew of programmes.
SeTU is an experiential program based on the CBSE/NCERT guidelines using the UK based, internationally acclaimed, Café Style Speed Training that uses neuro science and neuro linguistic programming based activities to establish the learning in the belief system of the student.
Yogya for Life Skill Development is designed for college students making them interview and business ready by improving their confidence, spoken English skills, developing values, competencies and functional skills.
Acharya is for teacher development and addresses the need for developing teachers.The programme transforms the way the teacher interact with the child and facilitates learning.
Masti is a playschool programme based on the Paathshala ethos of experiential learning.
Shikshak is a residential futuristic program for B.Ed. & M.Ed. students that will help them develop the necessary facilitation skills for modern education backed by domestic and international placement programmes.
St. Xavier’s Junior School in Muzaffarpur has implemented the programmes run by Paathshala. Chanda Singh, a teacher of the school speaks about the impact of the programme- “Morality like other things is learned from observation. It is learned either from parents or from their emotive teachers. Teachers often play a critical role as they act like parents. Since our contemporary world has come to suffer from a large number of fractured families, most values must be instilled in children by teachers and mentors of school. Morality is born in an environment of trust. Every child must feel safe in the common social environment and feel a belonging of healthy environment. I think Paathshala programme is the best for the children because they learn values by the method of observation and activities. Through this programme teachers will be not only a teacher but a facilitator. It builds a bridge between students and the facilitator. It is a neuro science through which children have to take out their positive thinking and values.” Touching Lives
Going with the ‘Paathshala’ theme, all the programmes are designed such that there is no need of any audio visual aids; the programmes can be run sitting under a tree if needed! The impact according to Rajib Choudhury is remarkable. “Our Yogya programme, has touched more than 1000 lives through the courses running in Baramati and Pune in Maharashtra and Muzaffarpur in Bihar. Our SeTU program launched in January 2015 in Muzaffarpur and Ghaziabad has 6 schools with more than 2800 students where we impart value education to school students through experiential fun activities,” he informs.
For Choudhury it was a very steep learning curve combined with worry and self-doubt. The rough part is now over and Rajib is presently enjoying the thrill and excitement of making things happen and seeing the actual transformation in students that makes his efforts all worthwhile. “The best experiences,” shares Chaodhury, “have been with children and parents who really appreciate the change that Paathshala’s programmes have made.”