Broadening Horizons Through Education!

Life-Education

It was only after my graduation I can say that I started doing what I love and from there this also formed a basis of my research interest and topic. Immediately after my graduation I started working as a Development facilitator with one of the renowned Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) in India. I still have vivid memory of my experience and the fact that I wish to share my experience itself makes it special for me. I could have never thought before my stint as a Development facilitator that Education could have so much impact on changing the entire life of the people. The meaning of education completely changed for me then. I realized that education was not only limited to knowledge based classroom education but could bring happiness and cheerfulness in the life of the people. Most importantly it could make them happy, empowered and independent.

My role as a Development facilitator for this NGO was really challenging and also interesting. I worked for a Sustainable Livelihood programme which involved educating the uneducated and marginalized youth from the slums and giving them an entire new life. My challenge used to start from mobilizing this youth from the slum and poor pockets of Mumbai and convincing them and their family to educate themselves so as to live a better life ahead. Every day was a totally different experience when we went for mobilizing. Some families wanted to get their child educated while some families did not. Most of the families did not. I found that there was ignorance, no motivation to live a happy life because of non-fulfillment of daily necessities and no purpose. It was found that these people needed more of life skills and motivation building than classroom education.

However, after rounds of walking and convincing people in these slums, we finally managed to get a classroom full of students. With different backgrounds of these students in my class, the problem was only one- they had no motivation to live life. This lack of motivation of theirs actually motivated me and made me curious to know about their problems. It was definitely not easy for me to solve their problems and to know about them very soon. I was a teacher who was energetic, motivated and curious to teach and change lives whereas my students were in abject poverty, going through a lot of sufferings through home, yet pushing themselves to come to my class. Inspite of all these sufferings. I used to train them in communication skills and other vocations education courses and then came the time to teach them life skills!

LABS-S image
LABS-S

Since they came from marginalized communities and from slums, life skills for them was not only a lesson to be taught but it really had a practical significance in their lives. While teaching them life skills I was not sure whether they would take it positively and whether it would work. I was however surprised to know that the life skills which included modules on building confidence and self-esteem, looking positively towards things, importance of learning etc motivated these students to learn and stay in the class for the whole upcoming sessions. The ignorance and worries on their forehead would turn to inquisitiveness and curiosity when I used to teach them these modules.

The whole aim of this sustainable livelihoods program was to make them self-reliant and independent by giving them employment and work to do. The experience of teaching them the work readiness module so as to get them ready for work was altogether a new experience for me. They did not know anything about work and office and therefore it was very thrilling experience for me to teach them about work and office skills in general. This training of me giving them the work readiness module really energized them to work hard and therefore it was very energetic for me to train them on new skills so that they can work and make themselves self-reliant. This employment of him changed his entire life. It gave him fulfillment and a direction to his career in the retail industry.

When he had come in my class he did not know about anything. He was very naive and his English was very weak. However, I had some feeling that there is something in this person and therefore I used to train him separately. I was thrilled to know that he passed his interview very well and was placed in the company. These students who could change their lives by getting a job and supporting their families made the experience all the more fruitful and worth remembering. I realized from this program that in developing countries like India the meaning of sustainable livelihoods is realized in its full potential when a person can actually support himself and be empowered. Hope I can build livelihoods of many other people like this one.

Image – Pixabay.

Rasika Soman
My name is Rasika Soman and I work as a Research Associate with the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A). My research and practice interest is Education for Sustainable Livelihoods and I wish to make my contribution in that area. I love being creative and love colors. My hobbies are reading, writing, travelling, cooking and watching movies.