Be The Change: Celebrating Mumbai’s Extraordinary Teachers This Teacher’s Day

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“A good teacher is like a candle that consumes itself to light the way for others.” ~ Anonymous

Every year Teacher’s Day is celebrated on September 5th to mark the birth anniversary of the second President of India, Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan. It’s a day when students across age groups honour their teachers and express gratitude. We are taking the opportunity today to say thanks to a few extraordinary teachers who have gone beyond the call of duty for their students. From begging in Mumbai locals to fighting the authorities for electricity and water so that students can attend school, these teachers have gone the extra mile to ensure that their students get the education that they rightfully deserve.

sandeepdesai1Professor Sandeep Desai
A Marine Engineer by profession and a qualified MBA graduate, Sandeep Desai has literally crossed all boundaries to gain quality education for his students. Dressed in formals, this professor walks around in Mumbai local trains on Western and sometimes Central railway to get donation for the schools he has set up. Founder Trustee of the Shloka Missionaries, he just has one mission – to run free English medium schools in rural Maharashtra.

He just has one mission – to run free English medium schools in rural Maharashtra.

Terming people in the trains as ‘captive audience’, he tried to draw their attention by his high impact slogans and encourages commuters to donate towards the cause of education. Geared with laminated newspaper articles that validate his claims he seeks to address and thwart all fears commuters may have about where their funds will finally be utilized. As of today, he has collected more than Rs 20 lakhs which help him educate children across remote areas of the state. Desai has also taught as reputed B-schools but now devotes his full time towards Shloka Missionaries.

Nandini SardesaiNandini Sardesai
Despite her retirement from teaching, Professor Nandini Sardesai still continues to be the most popular woman professor in Mumbai for her work both as a teacher and a social activist. She was the former head of the Department of Sociology at St Xavier’s College and now continues as visiting faculty thanks to to her commitment to teaching. She is also the wife of the late Test cricketer Dilip Sardesai and mother of CNN-IBN’s editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai.

She has successfully organized fund-raising events for teachers in 2003 and led a movement to achieve gender equality.

As a member of the Ad-hoc Committee, Mumbai University Professor Sardesai was responsible for the revision of the Foundation Course-1 textbook (a course for Students in the Arts, Commerce and Science field). She has also successfully organized fund-raising events for teachers in 2003 and led a movement to achieve gender equality. This resulted in women receiving the right to vote and electoral representation for women members in the ‘male dominant’ managing and balloting committees. Since then, she is actively involved in issues of social concern.

Apart from this, her role beyond teaching and social activism is also commendable. She was appointed as member of the Consumer Complaints Council under The Advertising Standards Council of India for a period of 2 years from April 2006 till March 2008. She was also appointed in October 2005 as Advisory Panel Member for the Mumbai region of the Central Board Film Certification. In April 2006, she was even appointed as a Board Trustee of the Public Concern for Governance Trust and continues to be a member of the Anti Corruption Cell, Indian Merchants’ Chamber.

Sharanya RameshSharanya Ramesh
A volunteer at the Teach for India initiative, Sharanya has worked with the  aim to educate the underprivileged children in Mumbai. She currently works in a low income school set up in Jogeshwari and has encountered several challenges while teaching her students.

She went around encouraging parents to send their daughters to school.

She shares that initially her school had only a few students attending regularly. Many of the girls were forced to drop out because of their parents. On further investigation, Sharanya found out that a majority of these girls were sexually abused. She immediately brought her student’s plight to the attention of NGOs and authorities and fought for their right to education. She went around personally encouraging and convincing parents to send their daughters to school and put an extra effort to ensure their safety. Till date, she makes sure that all the students, boys and girls, receive education irrespective of their backgrounds or circumstances.

PralhadPralhad Kathole
A resident of Thane, Prahlad Kathole works in a the Zilla Parishad Primary School, Nihalee, located on the other end of the Modak Sagar dam that supplies water to Mumbai.Children from tribal villages in the area go to this school which was set up two years ago after the Right to Education Act came into force. However, the facilities at this school were meager and this deterred students and teachers from coming to school regularly. The school began with a single classroom for four grades with two toilets – one for girls and the other for boys – and no water supply. With Kothale’s efforts 70,000 rupees were sanctioned by authorities to improve the water supply but it was too little to solve the problem. This forced Prahlad to personally fetch water from a well which was about a kilometer from the school daily. Only because he didn’t want his students to miss out on education. His efforts bore fruit when he got a sanction for another classroom and to proper electricity, which has yet to start.

This forced Prahlad to personally fetch water from a well which was about a kilometer from the school daily.

And when it comes to teaching, he uses simple yet effective means to communicate with his students so that they understand and remember. He says, “While teaching I started talking to them in their own language. Respect for their own language creates interest in the school for them. I teach them mathematics using daily life scenarios. We learn science by exploring the area around the school and study various concepts like living organisms, soil, etc. Many of the concepts in geography are learnt through daily experiences and through discussions with older people in the village. In English, I teach them words used everyday like light, button, switch, wire, tyre, etc. We also have daily timings for sports and playground activities. Art education combines their own folk songs and dance along with the folk drawings. Work experience is covered under plantation and working for roads as well as cleaning activities around and inside the classroom.”

When asked about how these methods have benefited his students, Pralhad humbly says, “Currently many students who were unaware of the need for literacy are aware of it. Children in grade 4 and 3 are able to read and write by themselves. Many of them can write about two pages on the given situations. Grade 2 and grade 1 students are able to figure out letters. In spite of coming from tribal areas, these students can understand the textual language we speak. It took me almost two years to get here. And today they are also able to deal with the transactions below 100 rupees very efficiently. This is how my students are growing with a little help from me.”

Pralhad is also a member of a ‘teacher’s study group’ which is an initiative by QUEST, an organisation that works for the quality of education at primary level. They are a group of people who help in training the teachers and also address the grievances and try to find a solution to it. The members meet once in a month and discuss their problems in the study group meetings. They also organize different events for the awareness about progressive methods in the classrooms through the study groups. The study group fairly equips all the teachers to stand in the classroom to achieve the goals of education.

These are just four stories of teachers across various walks of life striving to achieve the aim of free and compulsory education for all children. These are stories of teachers who are teaching their students by setting the right examples. Teachers who are transforming lives. But we are sure there are many more. And we want to hear them all! Have you ever come across a teacher who might have influenced your life positively? Share your stories with us as tributes to those teachers who have truly made a difference to your life.

Mumbai! It’s time to share love, do good and make your city a happier place with #GoodDeedMarathon ! Register for the Good Deed Marathon and spread smiles, click here http://bit.ly/1bqAJBL 

Here are a few photographs from Pralhad’s school:

 

Post By Syrah (76 Posts)

Always curious, writing was something she discovered accidentally which she now enjoys. Loves reading fiction, dislikes staying idle and enjoys spontaneous trips or treks over weekends.

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Syrah

Syrah
Always curious, writing was something she discovered accidentally which she now enjoys. Loves reading fiction, dislikes staying idle and enjoys spontaneous trips or treks over weekends.
  • Asha Bhardwaj

    Happy teachers day to all the teachers