Things that money can’t buy – The Hindu, New Delhi 28th Jan 2013,byGAURAV VIVEK BHATNAGARTwo engineers choose to teach kid...
were boys teaching in municipal schools after leaving highly paying jobs. But now theappreciation for our work is there,” ...
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Things That Money Can't Buy


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Things That Money Can't Buy

  1. 1. Things that money can’t buy – The Hindu, New Delhi 28th Jan 2013,byGAURAV VIVEK BHATNAGARTwo engineers choose to teach kids than draw from high-paying jobs : Till a year ago, Rahul Bhanot, a Computer engineer and an MBA, was drawing around Rs.2 lakh per month working for an information technology major, but he was not happy working for unseen people. Today he is much happier earning a Rs.14,000 per month stipend while teaching at a municipal corporation Primary School in Tughlakabad Extension. He now commutes 20 km from Faridabad to theschool every day. While his business family has not been able to comprehend his decision,they nevertheless respect it.“I wasn’t really interested in Information Technology. After doing my M.Sc. from Coventryand MBA from Nottingham in England, I worked for companies there as also for TCS andIL&FS Education in India. But there was always something missing in my life,” says 33-year-old Rahul.Then through a friend he came to know about Teach For India, which has been working witharound 700 outstanding college graduates and young professionals towards eliminatingeducational inequity in India.“I joined TFI as a fellow and now I teach girls of Class III all the subjects barring the secondlanguage. Our teaching style is not rote; it is more of conceptual learning. I hope to open myown school based on these concepts on completing my two year fellowship,” says Rahul.Another TFI fellow, Mainak Roy, too nurtures similarambitions. He also joined the second batch in Delhi lastyear and now teaches girl students at a municipalcorporation Primary School in Sangam Vihar. “My fathertill date cannot understand why I turned down offersfrom leading companies to take up teaching. In Indiateaching is considered the last avenue whereas indeveloped countries like Finland, teachers are paid at parwith the best,” notes this B. Tech. in Electronics.Mainak insists that the teaching they impart is not about marks. “One section out of four inthese schools is allocated to us and we teach our students in English. We also tell them thingsabout the outside world from our own experiences.”For both Mainak and Rahul, who are part of the second batch in Delhi, the going was notalways easy. “When we went into the community, there was an element of distrust as we
  2. 2. were boys teaching in municipal schools after leaving highly paying jobs. But now theappreciation for our work is there,” avers Rahul.While the children and their families initially treated the school like a crèche – somewherethey could stay safely while their parents were at work and one which also provided themfree uniforms, food and scholarships – the learning process brought about a drastic change inthem, they insist.“One girl recently asked me if she could go with her family for a wedding in the family. I toldher it would be better if she did not as the final exams were approaching. She kept coming toschool. It was only after about ten days that she disclosedthat she had stayed back alone at home and most of the timeate just eggs and bread. It is such dedication of thesestudents which makes our efforts all the more worthwhile.Seeing the children progress before your eyes also givesimmense satisfaction.” says Rahul.Mainak adds that for all the girls schooling is also a passportfor a better future. “There is one girl in my class who often turns up with a black eye. When Iasked her about the reason, she said her mother was burnt alive before her own eyes and nowshe lives with her maternal aunt, whose son often beats her up. But despite all of thatshe triesnot to miss even a single class.”Recently, he says, when as part of a critical thinking exercise he gave his class an exercise towrite the craziest things they could imagine with a sock – like being able to travel around theworld on wearing it – one girl, Shaheen wrote: “I hope that on wearing this all the parents inthe world have the money to send their children to school”. The touching words instantly wonher the first prize.The two fellows say the students now feel freer to discuss various issues with them and in thewake of the recent gang-rape case, they even asked them what the incident was all about.“We did not discuss the issue with them but intend to get our female colleagues for a sessionon such matters. Such interventions are important for their well-being and can look atteaching them things like good and bad touch,” they say