Seen as a nationwide movement involving outstanding graduates and young professionals for eliminating educational inequity in India, Teach for India aims to provide India’s underprivileged children with the educational opportunities they deserve. Shaheen Mistri, the founder, and CEO of Teach For India discusses with Halabol, how her initiative will build an educated and developed India.
Teach For India is a nationwide movement that involves country’s most promising college graduates and young professionals to come forward and share their knowledge. It asks them to commit two-years to teach full-time in under-resourced schools; these young academicians will then go on to become lifelong leaders working from within various sectors toward the pursuit of equity in education.
The idea sounds really wonderful as spreading education can be the real solution for many problems plaguing Indian society today. Shaheen Mistri, the founder, and CEO of Teach For India begins by narrating the genesis of this idea.
“The idea was developed in 2006 when I was working along with a group of people to reform education in India. We came together to seek an innovative solution to end educational inequity in the country. During this time, we met with Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder of Teach For America, to discuss the feasibility of adapting Teach For America’s model to the Indian context. When we engaged with a number of stakeholders within the government, at academic institutions, and at corporations, we felt very encouraged by the favorable response we received. A few months later, a twelve-week study was launched by McKinsey & Company to determine the feasibility of implementing this model in India. The study concluded favorably and at the end of the process, a plan to place the first cohort of Fellows as well as a plan to grow the movement to scale for the next five years was put in place.”
Teach For India fellows are supposed to work as dedicated teachers to expand, in a measurable way, the educational opportunities available to thousands of India’s most underprivileged children. And as Shaheen said, in the long run, regardless of the career path they choose after their Fellowship, Fellows (as alumni of the program) will work towards fighting educational inequity in India, with their willingness and capacity to create change.
“We believe that lack of education is a precursor to unemployment and poverty. Illiteracy sets off unemployment, which in turn leads to poverty and this goes on till it becomes a vicious cycle. Here at Teach For India, we focus exclusively on education, as that is the starting point for a multitude of problems plaguing our nation. Teach For India works directly and indirectly with children from low-income communities. Our Fellows teach in classrooms in municipal and affordable private schools, focusing on academics and values.”
Teach For India started out in 2009 in Mumbai and Pune. Today, it operates in 5 cities across India and still growing Shaheen also elaborated on how Teach For India Fellows extend their work profile beyond the classroom as they work with school authorities,
families and communities. Beyond this, several of their alumni will be continuing their work in the education and development sectors – these include alumni working in rural India or even Naxalite areas, thus directly impacting the lives of children and families there.
Seems like, Teach For India is set up to brighten the future of our country will illuminating ideas in education sector!
“In the long-run, I see Teach For India building a powerful and ever-growing leadership force of alumni. These Teach For India alumni, informed by their experiences and insights, will work from inside and outside the educational system to effect fundamental, long-term changes necessary to ultimately realize educational opportunity for all – ensuring that one day, all children in India will attain an excellent education.”
It is worth mentioning that currently, Teach For India has a contingent of 500 plus Fellows teaching in five cities, and they aim to reach the target of 2,000 teaching Fellows in 2016-17, with an alumni network of over 700 Fellows who have completed their Fellowship. Teach For India is currently in its fifth year of operations. From a cohort of 80 Fellows who joined us in May 2009, in the academic year 2013-14, they had a total of 506 Fellows teaching over 16,000 children, in 443 classrooms (across 164 schools), in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad. A glimpse in to their website http://www.teachforindia.org/ gives a detailed idea on their ideals and vision.
“We recruit fresh graduates, young and experienced professionals with experience ranging from 2-10 years from across diverse sectors and academic backgrounds. Currently, Supporting our Fellows every step of the way, and helping build an unwavering nationwide movement, is a dedicated team of staff who come on board with a range of professional experience across verticals like Finance, technology, Communications, Human Resources and Fundraising, among others. Our core values – Integrity, Reflection, Sense of Possibility, Respect and Humility, Resourcefulness, Seva and Team Work – bind our staff together in a close-knit work culture, creating an environment that helps everyone work cohesively towards our vision.”
Halabol wholeheartedly supports movements like Teach For India that have the potential to cast greater impact in catalyzing and develop-
ing India’s educational scenario. Like Shaheen pointed out, Halabol also understands how important it is to report on educational inequities without any bias.
As the mirror and moulder of society, Halabol strives to highlight the work done by this committed group and urges our readers to contribute to this initiative. We acknowledge the work done by Teach For India team and appreciate it; simply because education is both the means and ends of development! To know more about halabol, log on to www.halabol.in