In the 21st century, a student needs much more than just academic knowledge. It is crucial for them to develop some much-needed life skills. 21-year-old dual degree student at IIT Madras, Divanshu Kumar was thinking along similar lines, two years ago when the idea of peer learning struck him.
Two years on, Kumar, along with his teammates have successfully started their social enterprise- “Involve”, a not-for-profit organisation aimed to create an affordable and accessible ecosystem where students are empowered towards self-driven learning and personal growth.
Talking to The Logical Indian, Divanshu said that even though youths today have the necessary technical skills, most of them remain unemployed because they lack certain soft skills like teamwork, communication, problem-solving and ability to deal with failure. However, most of them are busy in rote learning which is rampant, and by the time they graduate, they are clueless about what they learnt in all those years. With the help of Involve and its peer learning model, Divanshu wishes to change the status quo.
How It All Began
The concept of “Involve” originated two years ago when Divanshu realised that being good in academics is just one aspect of a good education. Many of his peers struggled to speak in front of people and lacked confidence since they got zero exposure during their school days. If this is the case with students from IIT Madras, one of the best institutions in the country, he contemplated what would it be with the students from other schools and colleges. It was at the same time while he was working with ‘Avanti Fellows’, (a social enterprise by IIT Bombay) that he understood the potential of peer-driven learning.
Divanshu, along with his friends Samyak and Awnish, brainstormed a lot on the feasibility of peer teaching/learning in school premises and the enormous impact it could make. They piloted this model in ASN Senior Secondary School in Delhi, in the summer of 2016, and were surprised to see the results. Within six weeks of the pilot project, the educators (Peer Teachers) improved significantly in their confidence and communication skills, learnt behavioural and management skills, while also propsering in their academics. They also saw that the average academic scores of the students being taught went up by 20% in just six weeks. This is where they knew this would work!
Today, this social enterprise has partnered with two schools- one in Chennai and the other in Bengaluru. However, he said that his company is in talks with four other schools in both these cities and within the next month, their programme will be rolled out to six schools in total. At present, Divanshu has a seven-member strong team.
Screening process for student leaders
Presently, the student leaders or the peer teachers conduct classes in mathematics and science for two hours, thrice a week. Divanshu said that there are at least two student leaders who are teaching a class of eight to ten junior students. Even though any student between classes IV to VII can enrol themselves for taking these after-school programmes, the students of classes VIII to XII, interested in the position of being a student leader, have to be trained. The students have to go through a screening process after which they are eligible to teach their juniors.
The seven-member strong team based out of Chennai hopes that this programme will create men and women who shall become flag-bearers of change in the future.
Divanshu said that the Singapore International Foundation’s Young Social Entrepreneurs Programme has helped him immensely to develop concepts with regards to both business and product designing aspects. Even though he was taken aback when he found out that Involve was shortlisted for the final round, he said that the team is now preparing in full swing.
Education is an important sector; sadly, its problems are often neglected. The Logical Indian applauds team Involve and its efforts towards building a better and brighter tomorrow for Indian youths.