India, a major economic superpower continues to face stern challenges in the public education sector. It is still ranked 161 on the World Education index with a literacy rate of only 54.27 %. The major reasons for the low literally rate is the very high drop our rate of students, shortage of infrastructure and poor level of teacher training. Only 15% of Indian students reach high school, and just 7% graduate. Our volunteers work with the schools, which have very limited resources. Volunteers bring in their experiences, new ideas and energy to help the children understand the importance of education. They act as a role model to encourage students to choose school and education over dropping out and work. Volunteers assist the local teachers with an aim to spread the awareness towards importance of education, regular schooling and its benefits.
Age group of the children is from 4 to 13 years of age. The teaching curriculum for each major subject is based on the students’ standard book. Volunteers spend a few days understand the subject to be taught before they start teaching. Indian education system is very different from what volunteers are used to, Volunteers are also encouraged to create their own lesson plans and implement new methods of teaching, which are not only helpful to the kids but also beneficial to the teachers. Depending on the subject, volunteers can bring along teaching materials such as picture books, instruments, flash cards, art supplies, and songs.
Institutions volunteers work with have their own permanent staff member who generally assists volunteers with their teaching and in communicating with the children and colleagues. Volunteers might also be asked to take up classes when regular staff members are on leave. Classes are generally in session six days a week, with volunteers working for 5 days a week and for three to six class periods each day and a break for lunch. Rishikesh program is an exception where the volunteers work in the after school hours when extra classes for the children are held.