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Alumni blog: Revolutionising education in rural India

September 2013

Pravin teaching in IndiaPravin Kamble was at Pestalozzi from 2009 to 2011. Following from his last blog post about his current studies, Pravin shares his summer campaign to revolutionise education in a rural corner of India.

I travelled to India for my summer break, expecting a good, warm weather. But the monsoon disturbed my plans! All I could do was sit inside, see my friends and family, and do some revision for the next academic year at the University of Brighton.

Now, my younger sister is in her GSCE (Indian tenth grade) this year. I thought, would it not be nice if I teach her Maths and English as long as I am in India? She happily agreed, and we started our small coaching classes. It was fun, but I soon realised that it was not only my sister struggling with English – her classmates were also struggling.

Then I thought of the plan which made my summer vacation worth remembering. I thought to go to every primary and secondary school in the neighbouring villages and use my experience and knowledge to help them improve their English and their performance in other subjects. I knew that I was not an English pundit, but that I had the guts to change few things!

I started with my own village school, where I was heartily welcomed. Instead of going to the each class, I invited students from age seven to sixteen to a conference hall. I wanted everyone to be part of this campaign. We discussed many topics, such as ‘Ways to Improve English’, ‘Exam Techniques’, ‘Need for Education’ and ‘Innovation – Need of the Century’. It was good to talk to them as their elder brother and the response I got from them was really great, but I was not fully satisfied with my work. There was something missing, and I was still looking for that missing factor. The search was on.

It was a difficult task, as I wanted spend time in more remote schools. Sometimes, because of the heavy rain, a bus could only take me to the half way and I had to walk on muddy roads for a mile or two. But I wanted to find the answer for my question, ‘Why am I still not satisfied with my work?’

Students discussing exams with PravinI arrived at the sixth school, finding my way amidst heavy raindrops and around unexpected pits in the road. The headmaster asked me to talk to the twelfth class students. I went to the class and started explaining how to go about exams and what techniques should one use to effectively prepare for exams. However, this time I noticed something new. The students were bright, hardworking and diligent. Some of them worked more than 12 hours a day preparing for exams. They didn’t necessarily want to hear exam techniques from me. Even they were looking for something more.

I found my answer in their eyes. The students were simply memorising whole pages from their books to get better marks in their exams. Some of them had become book-slaves. I soon realised that there was a lack of the three essential H’s: Head, Heart and Hands. I had to admit that I had been fortunate to study in a vibrant community like Pestalozzi and that I was a better placed person because of it. I could see what was missing and the campaign took the totally different path. I thought, if Pestalozzi can help students from all over the world by helping them get the quality education by encouraging their ethics and self-awareness, why couldn’t I do it for my own community students?

Time was running out. I was returning to the UK for university very soon. I couldn’t visit every school, but what I could do was form an association of experienced teachers, interested parents and enthusiastic students to spread the universal message of the three H’s. We decided on the mission statement, ‘Anticipating, creating and promoting the holistic approach to education among youngsters through self-discovery and innovative thinking.’ While I am back in the UK now, I know the campaign continues in my absence in a rural corner of India with the tag line, ‘Changing approach – Changing lives’.

I remember visiting the school a day before I departed to UK, talking to the students, telling them the importance of a holistic approach. I could not stop myself from thanking and praising Pestalozzi for the great work they are doing with students from all around the world on the south coast of England.

This summer was a journey of self-discovery for me. Going from being angry at the monsoon to raising a good campaign was just like a dream. It was a true indicator of what changes a good educational system like Pestalozzi can make to an individual and to a community through that individual.

I hope the campaign we started lives long and helps the educational system in the rural India rise like a phoenix bird. I feel inspired to carry on this work, find sponsors and make this campaign run all over India… and now I know – I am capable of doing just that!

Pravin is going from strength to strength, sharing the education he was able to receive thanks to a Pestalozzi scholarship. Be part of a story like this: donate to Pestalozzi today!