My name is Arnab Thokder and I have been associated with education for the last 7 years – 2 years as a fellow in Teach for India, 3 years as a teacher in a very remote mountain school in Sikkim, 1 year as a Project coordinator in a government education project in Sikkim and another 1 year as a Principal in a free school for underprivileged children (Akshar Forum) in Assam. It has been my dream to go back to the place I belong to and give it back to the villages where education is a luxary.
I am a graduate in Mechanical Engineering (B. Tech) and have been working in corporate sector for 6 years prior to my experience in education. I have worked in United States (California and Connecticut) and Switzerland (Morges) before leaving my job to well serve my country. My experience abroad has helped me a lot with my leadership skills and I hope with the overall experience I would be able to achieve my goals. I am seeking support to fulfill the dream.
The remote terrains of Himalayas in Darjeeling (West Bengal) make it difficult for the children to access schools. In places the children have to commute two hours one-way to schools with good infrastructure and facility. The presence of NGOs in the education sector in the region is very less.
The traditional education system, prevalent in most of the government institutions as well as commercialized private schools, encourages rote memorization, leading to behavior which instigates cramming and forgetting rather than life-long learning. Standardized testing determines everything, and aptitude of students is not recognized outside this format.
In such circumstances, I have decided to establish a free school in one of the remote villages of Darjeeling for the children in financial need and with limited access to education facilities. The funding will cater to the Initial setup cost of 7 lakhs.Objective:
1) Build an alternative learning centre with more than average school skills being taught
2) A school which focuses on life skills and livelihood skills as much as academics
3) Reach out to children from the remote villages of Darjeeling where high quality education is still an impossible dream
4) Form a school team of extremely committed and hardworking individuals with heart for the cause
5) Help children to find their passions at an early stage – poetry, sports, music, arts or reading and ensure the children get enough opportunity and exposure to take the passion to the next level.
6) Teach children values – being truthful, treating everyone equally, giving mutual respect, spreading unconditional love, and finding happiness in small things.
7) Achieve an excellent academic outcome – not measured by rote-learned answers, but by the capability of applying knowledge in different life skills and problem-solving abilities encouraging creative out-of-the-box thinking.
8) Ensure outgoing students continue to access quality education by the means of individual sponsorship, scholarships or other means