Monday, 15 September 2014

Teaching is actually learning... and growing with your students...


Reshma Sawant


When she woke up that morning three years ago, Reshma Sawant didn’t know that that was the day her life would take a new turn. An avenue would open up which when explored would change her life.
Sitting in the room sharing her journey with us the thirty three year old gets overwhelmed by nostalgia and she recounts,” it was like any other day. I had taken my father in law to the hospital. As we were awaiting our turn I began reading the newspaper  in which I saw an advertisement by Pratham Infotech regarding its Student Enrichment Program (Utkarsh)”

Reshma was always passionate about teaching. But due to financial constraints she could not pursue it and instead went on to successfully graduate with a B.Com Degree.
Hence the advertisement caught her interest and she started making the necessary enquiries. The rest as they say is history.

“It has been three years since then”, she says with a broad smile.
When asked about her students and her relation with them she admits that initially it was not easy to bond with the children but gradually they started opening up to her.
She says,” There were students who didn’t show basic courtesy towards the teachers and were least interested in academics.” She added,” In the past three years I have also come across students who are extremely hard working but lack proper guidance and financial backing.”; “some students were orphaned and sadly those who had their parents with them received no support by them for their education.”
“The children came from extremely poor families and lived in slums”

Despite all these problems what made Reshma believe that these children could have a good future? She smiles and says “All they need is someone to support and guide them.”
But helping these students secure a good future for themselves was not an easy task for Reshma.
It required patience and lots of dedication. “There was a time when I felt I could not go on but Pratham Infotech Foundation and my co-fellows’ support fuelled my dedication towards making a difference to these students.”

 The first step she said was to get the students to trust and respect her. Once they did it was easy to share and address any problems they faced at home or elsewhere. Slowly their academics started improving as well. Reshma became everything to her students. Their mentor, friend, support system, go to person.

Reshma never disappointed her students and supported them even during their rough times.
She recounts the story of one of her student; Sandhya.
“Sandhya was an extremely hard working student but she struggled with her grades initially. Her father told us that his daughter will be discontinuing her education and instead he will make her learn household work. I reasoned with him to wait for six months. He did and today she has successfully completed her 10th examinations and wants to further get into vocational training.” Bravo Reshma!

She quickly adds,” oh it would have not been possible without Pratham Infotech Foundation’s support. The workshops and training sessions they organize help me constantly hone my skills and come up with innovative ideas to teach these students.  Pratham Infotech Foundation’s Student Enrichment Program (Utkarsh) helped me follow my dreams of becoming a teacher.  A dream, which had to be given up once, has come alive again and I wish to continue working here.”
 “This is really a rewarding experience emotionally as well”

To show us what she meant by this she showed us a message sent to her collectively by her students who had successfully cleared 10th grade. It read-
“Kalamthi hath mein
Likhnasikhayaaapne
Taakadthihaathmein
Hauslabadhayaaapne
Manjilthisaamne
Raastadikhayaaapne
Hum to sirf students the
Kamyabikarastadikhayaaapne”

She smiled and asked, “Does this not say it all?” Indeed it does Reshma, Indeed it does.