India’s young population is often characterised as a generation of go-getters. Hard working, driven and determined to make a name for themselves in an extremely competitive landscape. Their weekdays are hectic and their weekends are sacrosanct. Nevertheless, we come across stories of young people dedicating their time and effort to help better the conditions of the less fortunate.
Meet Rajesh Mummaneni, a final year B.Tech student, social innovator and founder of Saakshar.
Saakshar is an initiative around the idea that you can ‘Give 2 hours a week for an academic year, to educate and transform a class’. Rajesh founded the non-profit to help children in government schools supplement text book knowledge with important life skills such as Problem Solving, Stress Management, Leadership, Basic Arithmetic, Communication Skills, Informed Decision Making etc.
Rajesh himself is from a rural background in Andhra Pradesh. He received a good education but found himself ill-equipped when it came to the soft skills required to navigate the professional world. He admits that he lacked confidence and often found it difficult to speak in a public setting. This affected his performance during group discussions or classroom participation in college. Although he overcame his issues and went on to successfully host various seminars and webinars, his thoughts turned to children in government schools who did not have the resources to gain these useful tools for success.
Saakshar has been operating pilot projects in various schools in Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam since December 2016 and has already positively impacted the lives of numerous government school children.
Some of the programs that Saakshar offers include:
Transforming the dull walls of government schools into interactive learning environments for kids. Saakshar undertakes the responsibility of making over schools with colourful educational charts that inculcate the zeal of learning in young minds. This allows them to learn at their own pace and according to their interest.
The Fulfil a Wish program aims to bring smiles to the faces of children and inspiring them to dream big. This program encourages children whose parents find it difficult to cater to their wishes such as a new notebook, stationary or other learning materials. With every wish fulfilled the child develops a positive outlook towards life and the wish giver is instilled with utmost content through the simple act of giving.
Every student has a unique set of skills, strengths, and weaknesses and hence it’s very important to take unique decision for every student. Saakshar provides mentors to help kids understand these choices and career paths available to them. "Career Counseling and Course Options After 10th Class" session are being carried out for making an informed choice. They include probable courses or streams that the individual can pursue, the necessary entrance exams (if applicable) and the cut-offs for the same, the eligibility for specific courses etc.
Summer Computing Camp is an extensive, interactive, hands-on and fun program that aims to inspire the innovators of tomorrow by supporting the study of computer science. Saakshar aims to empower the next generation of coders, engineers, and innovators.
Apart from these programs, they also distribute books and study materials to Government school children to reduce the burden on their parents.
Rajesh has plans to join the workforce in the coming months but his vision for Saakshar is still growing. “The problem which we are trying to solve doesn't exist only in the schools which we are working, it exists in almost all the schools in India.”
With successful pilot programs under his belt, he aims to replicate this model in other primary government schools across the country.
The core team at Saakshar is young and dynamic. They are dedicated volunteers who have a hands-on approach to supplementing the education of children in India.
You can learn more about the Saakshar initiative through their Facebook page. They are always on the lookout for volunteers or organisations with the same goals to help further the good cause.
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