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Learn from teaching

Changing the way education is imparted in schools, Teach for India fellows are trying to bridge the gap in the education sector, says Garima Upadhyay

education Updated: Jan 18, 2012 00:48 IST
Garima Upadhyay

Would you give up your cushy job to contribute to a cause? For most there’s no easy answer. However, for Pankaj Mohan, an engineer working with Tata Motors, giving up his job and getting into the teaching grind wasn’t too hard. “It was during a radio show that I came across the Teach for India (TFI) fellowship and instantly knew what I wanted to do. However, I missed the deadline and couldn’t apply. So, I became a volunteer and served as the mediator between TFI and my company. Later, I applied for the fellowship, and when selected, I gave up my job to be a part of the initiative.”

Mohan’s company offered him a sabbatical of two years, but he refused – on moral grounds. Today, he is six-months into his tenure at TFI, and claims to have become a better planner, thinker and executive.

“Classroom teaching helps you learn a lot, even as a teacher. Creating a curriculum, interacting with children, and engaging their attention are some of the most difficult tasks when dealing with students. Dealing with different psychologies and varying abilities of your students also pose huge challenges for the teacher. You need to adapt yourself and the (teaching method) to suit each child. One rule won't apply to all,” adds Mohan

The different approaches used by students were quite evident at a recent event organised by the TFI team at the Shri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi. Various installations, a street play, a photography competition and students participating in various activities marked the event.

TFI recruitment manager Natasha Joshi says, “Through this event, we are trying to create awareness about the programme and the fellowship. Most of our fellows are here to answer queries and explain what they do at TFI. Our primary aim is to bridge the gap in primary education and instill confidence in kids from the lower economic and social strata to enable them to also be part of the mainstream education and become engineers and doctors or whatever they wish to be when they grow up. We have some of the best brains working as fellows and taking care of their education.”

So what does one need in order to become a TFI fellow? “Teach for India recruits the most promising young students and professionals across the country. We are looking for future leaders who will champion the cause of education. In order to be eligible for the fellowship, you need to have a bachelors degree (any discipline) and need to be under 36 years of age to be eligible,” adds Joshi.

Join the movement
The application process is available on www.teachforindia.org. Once you have filled out the online application, you could be shortlisted for a full-day assessment and a final interview. Once you are offered the fellowship, you can enroll for a six-week residential training in May/June, where you will be trained to become instructional leaders
Besides the fellowship there are other ways to contribute towards this movement

* You can become a volunteer in a TFI classroom by writing into volunteer@teachforindiaorg Classrooms are currently running in three cities - Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. They will be expanding to Hyderabad and Chennai in June 2012
* You can also become a Campus Ambassador (CA) or Young Professional Ambassador (YPA). CAs and YPAs help create awareness about the fellowship on their college or company campuses. Currently, there are over 250 CAs and about 130 YPAs across India.
* TFI also has staff roles for which you can apply at www.teachforindia.org/careers.php

The last date to apply for the Teach for India Fellowship is January 22, 2012