HYDERABAD: Binno, a little girl from a far-off place in Rajasthan who has now become a face of Vedanta, is a perfect example of those children who are first generation learners in their families.
Another such kid from the slums of Dharavi in Mumbai is Rahul Takke.
A class IV student of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Vidya Mandir, Rahul is a naughty kid who romps around the class, shouts and hoots and sometimes even beats up his classmates.
Why? Because he does not know that he shouldn't be doing that.
Simply put, it has been a challenge for his teacher to make him sit in class and listen to the lessons.
His teacher knows he has an interest and aptitude for Math, but has been looking for ways to make him concentrate and listen to her for the past eight months.
“He suddenly stands up in the class and shouts.
Clearly showing that he is not afraid of a teacher whatsoever," complains Ranjani Polepeddi, who is Rahul's teacher and a Teach for India fellow from the city.
Ranjani pursued ECE from Geethanjali college of Engineering and Technology in Hyderabad.
While her parents wanted her to become an engineer, she decided otherwise and opted for a fellowship at Teach For India.
Teach for India (TFI) — modelled on Teach for America — is a nationwide movement of young graduates and professionals who take up a two-year fellowship to teach full-time in Municipal or Government schools.
They are required to teach students of class II and III for two years using resources available and engage them in learning.
"My dad was skeptical and thought it was not worth leaving home and teaching in a slum.
But now, things have changed.
He is proud of me," beams Ranjani.
Teaching beyond subjects
According to Ranjani, the children from slums have to taught more than just the subjects in class.
It has to be a change in the attitude as well.
"The kind of surroundings that these kids in the slums live in fills them with a lot of negativity.
That is why one needs to help them overcome their negative thoughts along with teaching subjects," she explains.
Further adding, she says, “For me, a major challenge was to control Rahul.
Initially, he never listened to anyone.
But after eight months of teaching and spending time with him, he now respects me and listens to whatever I say.” Training and workshops
Every TFI fellow is paid a monthly stipend and house allowance.
Every year about 400 fellows are recruited from all over the country.
Of these, 75 fellows are placed in 33 schools in every city.
A minimum of two fellows are placed in one school.
They undergo a five-month rigorous training and attend workshops during the fellowship program.
Every fellow is given an achievement gap of 1.5 years in which he/ she should show the difference.
Based on this, they are assessed.
Impact on Kids
Sahil Sood, director of Teach for India, Hyderabad chapter, says, "I was not happy with my previous job and quit.
I wanted to do something in order to bring about a change in the society.
That is when I opted for a fellowship in TFI about four years ago.
Citing an example of TFI's impact, Sahil recollects, "My friend was teaching a student who did not know how to form sentences in English.
However, the same kid, by the end of one year, when his teacher asked him to write an essay about what he wanted to become, he wrote a full-page essay and put his imagination to work by illustrating how he wanted to look as well.
So, it does not end with teaching, but helping them think without depending on books." There is a repel effect from other teachers in the schools too.
“Teachers approach our fellows and are curious to know how they teach in order to implement those methods to improve children's performance academically and otherwise too,” he adds.
Your chance to apply
So, if you are a young graduate or a professional and want to make a difference in the society, here's your chance to apply for the fellowship.
And, the best part about it is that TFI is going to be launched in Hyderabad and Chennai from this year.
TFI has started in Mumbai, Delhi and Pune in 2008.
The last day to apply is February 15.
For details, log on to www.teachforindia.org