“So Aakruti what do you plan to do after graduation?”- that’s the question everyone keeps asking me every time I meet someone new or anyone; and I’m sure just like me there are few others who respond in either- “I don’t know” or “Teach For India” and I happen to fall in the latter.
But the question arises how and when did Teach for India come in scene instead of MBA.
*Enter Shaheen Mistri*
Shaheen Mistri is a name that’s synonymous with underprivileged kids. She’s the founder of India’s largest fellowship program “Teach For India”. It’s a nationwide movement that aims to bring together top most college graduates to bridge the educational gap for illiterate kids/youth and teach them full time for 2 years. Shaheen started TFI in the summer of January 2007 based out of the “Teach For America” model that was started 20 years ago in US.
Mistri as a young college student always had a soft corner towards the poor slum kids in Mumbai and so at age 20 she started the “Akanksha Foundation” with just 15 kids initially, now teaching 3,500 children across 58 centres and six different schools.
The primary vision of Teach for India is to remove all kinds of inequity in the field of education in India and that every child there must attain 100% education to develop to their full potential. TFI believes in an open system teaching and learning i.e. no particular class with tables and chairs but under a tree or in an open ground where the children not only learn but also experience things that helps them grasp things faster. In study matter material it follows the regular government customised syllabus that’s being followed all over India.
Mistri envisions to remove all possibilities of illiteracy by the year 2020.
Q1. What do you think inspires today’s youth to leave their corporate job and take up initiatives like TFI?
Ans: Maybe the fact that these poor kids have bare minimum aims in life. The fact that even after living in 21st century there are kids who are still underprivileged and its high time we continue like this. And initiatives like TFI help bring out the real calling in today’s youth.
Q2. What’s the thing that inspired you the most about Shaheen Mistri?
Ans: She was merely my age when she started the “Akanksha Foundation”. And that’s what is most inspiring about it. And now today she runs a successful initiative that’s not only profiting her but the kids studying under her.
Q3. If you could only speak one word today, what would you say?
Ans: That would be “Love”. Yes sounds very clichéd but for me its very important and I genuinely believe that “love conquers all” and that even the most angriest person can calm down if given proper love.
Q4. If you were asked to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
Q5. Who are you becoming?
Ans: For me I think by each passing day I’m becoming a mature person. I have finally started to understand the realities of life and the fact that I no longer can be the 10 year old that needed to be watched after. I no longer can be dependent on my parents and that it’s high time I start doing something about myself. In brief I’m becoming a more mature and responsible person.