The Foundation is the corporate social responsibility arm of Tech Mahindra Limited. Established in 2007, its’s work in primary education focuses on three thematic areas: empowerment of teachers, school improvement, and learning enrichment. The programmes are run in two modes — directly implemented through the Foundation and with partner organisations.
Shabina Sheikh, a Balwadi teacher in Kurla (Mumbai), had to deal with infrastructure problems and shortage of instruction material while teaching her classes. Balwadis are government-supported pre-schools run for the economically weaker sections. A dedicated teacher, she felt helpless knowing that she could not do justice to her students with limited resources.
Shabina then decided to engage in a six-month teacher-training programme initiated at her Balwadi by the Tech Mahindra Foundation in partnership with Save the Children, India, an NGO. The programme coached Shabina and other teachers on early-childhood education and activity-based learning. The teachers were given the curriculum, teaching and learning material, toys and trunks to store the material. Post the course, the training and equipment have helped Sabina and her colleagues improve the way they teach toddlers, using toys and innovative games. Sabina enjoys the daily interaction with her students and sees herself contributing meaningfully to their lives.
The Tech Mahindra Foundation is committed to teacher empowerment and improving teaching-learning experiences through the Shikshaantar programme. It focuses on creating happier classrooms and has trained 30,404 teachers to date through capacity building workshops at the two In-Service Teacher Education Institutes (ITEIs) in Delhi and other centres across India.
Another beneficiary of the programme, Neha Verma, a passionate teacher who attended a capacity building teacher training programme at ITEI-East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) talks about what she has gained from it. “Teaching is an everlasting quest for excellence, and this course is a milestone for me in that journey,” she remarks. A graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Neha had worked with several schools before she began her journey with EDMC school. When she attended the first set of training sessions in 2013, she modified her teaching methods dramatically. While Neha was always systematic and organised in her working, the Institute helped her to use constructivism in planning lessons.“Essentially, I learnt to help my children move from concrete objects to abstract concepts, and that has made a world of difference in how they perform,” she adds.
Teachers across the board see the difference the programme can make in the teaching methodology. Azharuddin, a teacher, working with first-generation students, says that teaching is not something that any textbook or training can prepare one for. However, it is the challenge that occupies the days and nights of passionate teachers like him. “I have had students who were about to drop out because the challenge seemed too intense. Honestly, I was not so worried about their academics as much I was worried about the choices they would make if I let them slip,” he says. One of the most significant reform in education at the primary level was the universalisation of elementary education, but a bigger challenge still awaits the teachers. “Keeping students in schools is one aspect, the bigger challenge is to keep them meaningfully occupied,” he reasons. Azharuddin credits his participation in the training sessions for boosting his morale when it was flagging.
Along with teaching methodology, the Tech Mahindra Foundation also works on the infrastructure requirements of the schools. One intervention is the introduction of a Mobile Science Lab in schools. An innovative initiative in association with the EDMC, the project has benefited over 1,544 students across 17 primary schools run by the corporation in 2019. More than 50 science teachers have already been trained to conduct hundreds of carefully chosen experiments. The unique initiative has encouraged the students to study in an experiential learning environment and has empowered educators to design creative ways to nurture budding scientists. Savita Sharma, a teacher at the EDMC Pratibha Vidyalaya in GTB Enclave, says, ‘I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand’ by Confucius is truly fulfilled by Mobile Science Lab, which is indeed an innovation in education to make the teaching-learning process more effective, more interactive and more interesting.”
A similar initiative of the Tech Mahindra Foundation is that of the ARISE (All Round Improvement in School Education) programme which focuses on improving the quality of primary education being delivered to children from the marginalised socio-economic strata. In Bengaluru, under the programme, it arranged daily commute for the children from school to their locality to reach the school. With this, they were able to convince the community members of Chandapura (6 km away from India’s Silicon Valley) to send their kids back to school. These children belonged to families of the migrant communities who were engaged in daily wage for sustenance. The ARISE programme has reached out to 65,044 beneficiaries to date.
Central to the Mahindra Group philosophy of #RiseForGood, the CSR arm of Tech Mahindra has impacted the lives of around 128,339 children who have been supported through the various education programmes.
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