From Broken Blackboards to a Bright Future
Laxmi is a third-year engineering student. Engage her in a conversation and this shy girl transforms into an extremely confident person. She says her favourite subject is VLSI Design, and on further probing explains, “It’s just like playing a game.”
One thing that sets successful people apart whether Elon Musk, or Steve Jobs, is their passion for what they do. Laxmi exudes that level of passion and looks all set for a successful future. She comes from a humble background where her school fee is a luxury her parents work hard to afford. Always a bright student, she scored 95% in her 10th grade exams, but the possibility for higher education seemed bleak until her headmaster introduced the family to Vidya Poshak. Vidya Poshak attempts to encourage meritorious yet economically challenged students to continue their education and realize their career dreams, by providing financial assistance. Students receive continued support year after year subject to their satisfactory academic performance, until they finish their under graduate studies.
Most students from a background like Laxmi’s have poor communication skills. There are many reasons for this. Fifteen years of formal education are spent learning passively. In most public primary schools accessible to students in rural India, discourse is not encouraged. There are few, if any, opportunities for presentations or group discussions to help students look at different perspectives. Science classes, for the most part, focus on memorizing formulae instead of discovering and understanding concepts through experimentation or hands-on learning. English classes lay emphasis on grammar rules but language immersion is seldom practiced. This does little to encourage independent or creative thought. Instead, students are urged to learn the contents of their textbooks by rote – information that is often forgotten by the time the exams are over. The poor means of knowledge acquisition are exacerbated by undertrained, apathetic or underpaid teachers, a lack of basic infrastructure and an enormous class strength. As a result, students finish school without the necessary skills for critical thinking, analysis or communication, to succeed in the real world. The shortcoming becomes more apparent when these students enter colleges where they must interact with students from diverse backgrounds, and possibly a better education.
This is one area that Vidya Poshak makes a huge impact. Batches of 60 students are selected for 9 day camps which focus on developing better communication skills, working in groups, and filling in the gaps left by a public-school education. The support of an organization such as Vidya Poshak can change the future of a student like Laxmi, and you can make that happen.