RITIKA SUBHASH (MS Information Systems, B.Tech)
I had worked for more than a year with EI when I got to know about the Mindspark centres project. Having worked enthusiastically with schools who opted for Mindspark, I had solid faith in the ability of Mindspark to assist children in the learning process, while also giving them remediation along with ample practice. However, I also realized that most of these children have a privileged background and access to many avenues of learning, whereas a huge population of children in our cities may be in a much higher need of such personalized support because of the lack of resources available to them. When I got an opportunity to spend some time at the centre, I realized that there is a significant impact that this program can have on the understanding of Math and Hindi of children from low-income communities. In addition to that, I felt that the centres are a place where children can come, unwind, have fun yet learn and also pick up important life skills of punctuality, discipline, regularity etc.
Through this project, I have had an opportunity to learn a lot from the people who run the centres day in and day out. The step to increase to 5 centres taught me a lot about negotiations, vendor management, HR practices, marketing etc - but was possible with extensive support from the existing team. There have been a lot of processes that we have together been instrumental in setting up and that the fact that there is still so much more for us to do drives me every day. I have also learned a lot from student and parent interaction - previously I had a very limited access to both these groups of beneficiaries and customers but I have now had the opportunity to understand to a small extent how parents and children view education, what motivates a child, what issues they face related to learning at schools and how important it is to be able to talk in the language of a parent to get their support for the program. I feel there is a huge potential for large-scale impact through this project and I want to continue building our strength to be able to take on this massive challenge of Every child learning with understanding! As they say, there are no short cuts to any place worth going!
KANIKA SISODIA(B.Sc Zoology, M.Sc Biochemistry, B.Ed)
When I was young like every other kid I aspired to be a doctor while many others wanted to become engineers, teachers, entrepreneurs. Most of the inspiration for the same came from television and school. Though we didnot go into the depth of nature of these jobs but our innocence had captured the essence that describes these profiles. It was the idea of helping someone,being selfless,contributing to the development of an individual and a society.
Observing my mother (who is a teacher) I have had a very close exposure to the teaching field since my childhood. I got to learn a lot as well as observe the teaching methodologies and plannings for curriculum. It was great to have a first hand experience of the efforts that our teachers used to make in just ensuring that we get a concept right. But is it possible for each student to have such teachers? I guess No! This is why I felt the urge to work in education sector and augment it but not in the conventional way - Thanks to Mindspark Centres Project I got this opportunity!
We all have wondered from time to time how kids memorize every latest song that comes on television (even the 5 year olds who can barely understand words) - This is because they are enjoying it. Its an effortless learning where they donot even realize how and when they learnt the whole song.
When we were in school majority of us loved English subject while most of us hated History - if you delve deeper it wasn't really the subject we hated/loved but how we were taught the same. While our English teacher would do story sessions/enacting dramas (that involved us in the learning) our history teacher would basically ask us to cram the whole chapter which was a turn off.
I have been with this project since it took roots and have had an exhilarating experience. Mindspark is unique in many ways but majorly because it gives individual attention to each kid as per his/her needs and helps them learn the very concepts they have missed in past. The concept is beautiful not just because it is reaching out to all the kids - those who are going to school, working or dropouts; but because it makes learning a fun experience for them.
It has given me an opportunity to connect with people and be a part of their ground issues for not considering educating their children. It has given me a platform to be with the students and experience the joy of teaching. It has been a journey full of challenges and learning be it from peers, parents or kids. Its a rush..a feeling of pride when you feel you feel that the future of this nation looks upto you and is eager to learn from you..its a power that makes you humble.
I am currently working as a Content Developer at NIIT
KANIKA SHARMA (B.Com SRCC)
I joined the centres project fresh out of college in July 2013, with no idea of what exactly I wanted to do. I only knew that I wanted my work to have an impact, to make a difference. A B.com(h) student, I was a little wary regarding how I would fare in the education sector but all my fears were put to rest when I was welcomed so warmly into the team. Within two weeks, it felt like I had been a part of the project for ages!
I had always presumed that I was aware of the key problems in the education system- but my experience with a child, a very bright 8th grader, who could not even read any akshar, forget understanding 8*th grade physics from the textbook, made me realise that reality was much more grim than I had perceived. While the problem was grave, I was instilled with a sense of self worth at having embarked on this journey to help every child learn with understanding.
Our days at the centre were filled with anecdotes. Happy tales of the innocence of children, and the pure joy that learning brings along with it. Work as a centre manager was not easy. It is challenging, and takes you very far out of your comfort zone. But it was satisfying, and absolutely worth it!
I am currently working as a DATA ANALYST at RSA Actuarial Services,Gurgaon.
RASHMI BHANDAWAT (Centre Manager)
The six months at the Mindspark centers were fun, insightful with lot of hard work. The space requires you to reflect on a daily basis to work with children. For me it was a very diverse experience to work with different stakeholders: children, parents, community,schools, organisations and peers. The lively walls of the center and the non-stop 'dhamaal' of the kids make your life joyous. It is one place where you can build upon your technical know how with your teaching and managerial skills.
Presently, I'm engaged in integrating value education with academics with VITAL(Value Integrated Teaching And Learning). We conduct workshops with teachers and prospective teachers on integrating Fundamental values with every chapter they teach.