Sandeep Acharya – Tata Steel Ltd.

A Saturday morning, basically my weekend starts.I felt this particular one was different than the earlier ones. It felt a bit out of my comfort zone. And sometimes that can be a good thing. I was visiting the school assigned to me as part of my ProEngage project.

As part of a Tata Engage initiative we kicked off the ninth edition of ProEngage. I applied and was selected for a project to conduct fun activities for students of government schools in Jamshedpur. The objective of the project is to help reduce absenteeism and hence the dropout rates in government schools. Over the next 6 months, over 30 volunteers including me will be working closely with a non-profit Annamrita Foundation and the government schools to support them in addressing this challenge by making learning fun and vibrant.

My school is Utkramit Madhya Vidyalaya, located at a beautiful location also referred to as Marine Drive in Jamshedpur. We reached in the morning for our very first school visit and were beaming with enthusiasm.

School authorities give a tour of the premises to the Tata volunteers

The visit started with the Head Mistress and other teachers welcoming us and explaining how difficult it was to start the school. It was very clear that they have been associated with the school for a long time and take pride in being part of this school in-spite of few gaps in the available facilities which is very common in government run schools.

They gave us a tour of the school where they teach students till class 8, I was surprised to see the enthusiasm and sheer happiness of the school children. I could not control but compare in my mind this school to a few others in the city wherein students have the luxury & privilege of state of the art infrastructure and facilities.

Volunteers discuss priorities with the school authorities

Post our visit to different classes, we discussed the areas in which we could add value with the school authorities. It seemed like teaching remains the top priority especially subjects like Math, Science, Computers and English. We are more than willing to contribute to the efforts of the teachers and ensure the students understand the concepts clearly. Based on this, we chalked out a 4-week plan and finalized it with the school authorities.

I understand that a 6-month ProEngage project may not be able to bring about all the change that is required, but I believe if a sincere attempt is made in this time, it could show some stellar results. We have also planned some fun activities which we will conduct to engage the children and make learning more interesting. I mean as kids we also focused more on the fun things. Didn’t we? ?.

Enthusiastic volunteers embark on the journey of volunteering!