My name is Pawan Raju and I am a fellow at Teach For India. I teach 30 extremely curious grade 6 students at Government Model Primary School Byatarayanpura.
Most of my students come from impoverished communities around the Byatarayanpura area in Bangalore. They have lived most of their lives around the poverty line and are the children of daily wage workers. However, my students do not let their backgrounds define or restrict them. They are highly motivated and dream of futures much brighter than their parents ever imagined for them.
These aspirations are what drive them to come to school everyday. They come into my classroom to learn and work with me to find a way to eventually achieve their goals. While one can admire and applaud their motivation, one can also see the crushing reality of the place they come to in search of an impetus. The classrooms in my school are tiny and cramped; They are piled with antediluvian benches and desks which are laborious to move around and are sometimes hazardous to sit in. The blackboards are worn out and certain areas are even completely unusable. 90% of our classrooms have no technology available to use in them. How is a child supposed to come into this environment and be able to attain an excellent education? How are teachers supposed to prepare children for the 21st century in classrooms like these? What can I, as an educator, do to help these children and best equip them for the future?
One may assume that simply adding a few benches and a blackboard would resolve this issue, but such solutions do not take into account modern views on education, and the idea that our students must be prepared for tomorrow. Transforming education today requires educators to shed the traditional notion of a teacher imparting knowledge to their wards and instead turn to the idea of a teacher as a facilitator helping students realise their creative potential and instiling within them the confidence to face uncertainty. We need classrooms that encourage teamwork, creativity and dynamism - spaces where students learn from their peers and learn to ask the right questions. My goal is to create a space where students feel safe, comfortable and excited. It is my firm belief that the learning space should embody the variety of learning within. Our 20th century infrastructure will simply not do for the future, and to this end I have partnered with The Better Design Foundation (TBDF).
TBDF is an organization started by ex-TFI fellows with experience in architecture and interior design. In partnership with FRDC - a large retail design studio, they have formulated a well thought out scalable solution to our current infrastructure issues. Our current classrooms have limited student-teacher interaction, inefficient space utilization, and a lack of diversity in learning mediums. Over the next year, I will be working with TBDF to transform my classroom in terms of equipment, technology, and structure keeping student outcomes at the center of this transformation. You can find more information on exactly how we imagine the classroom to look like here. Most importantly, I will be shifting my classroom from an instructional model to a collaborative one. My classroom will then serve as a model to other teachers, other schools, the local government, and to large institutions motivated to make a difference.
Right now, we have the opportunity not only to transform the lives of my current students, but to also disrupt the entire education system. With all that said, we will not be able to do any of this without your support. A portion of the funds raised will be used to provide basic amenities like electricity, fans, lights, etcetera and then the larger chunk of it would be used for customised, flexible furniture - which includes height adjustable desks, innovative seating, white and black boards, LED TVs, an in-room library and solar power systems ensuring the classroom is self sufficient and sustainable - I will be working with TBDF to ensure the classroom has varied layouts and plans to accommodate every student that passes through my classroom and their unique needs. Every donation, no matter how small, would make a difference. We would be collecting funds and posting all the expenses here. You can also find our expected cost break up below. We will also be sharing regular updates with you. Please feel free to reach out to me directly at email@example.com or to The Better Design Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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