PR Anusha could have continued raking in big bucks at her job with Citi Bank, but the 24-year-old chose otherwise. She wanted to see her work have a positive social impact, and was not satisfied with working in the corporate sector.
After completing her bachelors in economics (honours) at Shri Ram College of Commerce and masters at Delhi School of Economics, Anusha quit her high-flying job within a year and opted for a ‘Teach for India Fellowship’.
Teach for India - modelled on Teach for America - describes itself as a nationwide movement of college graduates and young professionals, who will commit two years to teach full-time in under-resourced schools. Fellows are required to teach students of Class 2 and 3 for a period of two years in a government school using the available resources in a creative and engaging manner.
“I always wanted to work in the education or health sector. Teach for India gave me the opportunity to look at issues of inclusion and education for all,” said Anusha, who teaches in an MCD school at Jahangirpuri.
The transition from a corporate set up to an MCD school, however, was not an easy one.
“Financial security was the one issue that my parents were worried about. After all, I had a very good salary package at my previous job. But my parents gave in after I told them about my motivation to pursue the fellowship. They have been very supportive,” she added.
Teach for India fellows earn between Rs 15,000 and Rs 21,000 per month and undergo a mandatory training to learn about different teaching tools. They are required to teach the children mathematics and English.
But, the financial aspect was not the only hurdle.
“Within months of joining the fellowship, I started to feel disillusioned. Our efforts to make the lives of children - many of who face domestic violence - seemed trivial. Reconciliation between their social reality and what we taught them in class was difficult,” Anusha added.
Elisha Patel, another fellow, also faced many challenges. “Convincing the parents that their children’s future will improve if they pursue academics is very tough. One needs to engage with the community, which takes a lot of time and effort,” Patel said. Patel completed his graduation in English at St Stephen’s College last year.
Most of the volunteers at the Delhi chapter of the fellowship are graduates from top city colleges and come from diverse backgrounds - both social and academic.
While Anusha wants to pursue a course in public policy or development economics after completing the scholarship, Patel wants to undertake a BEd and teach full time.