Dream of a situation where numbers and formulae become your friend, a place where you can play with mathematics and science! Even though it sounds like a fantasy, Aavishkaar helps convert this dream into reality!!
Having worked for over 10 years in The United States of America as technology research engineers, Sarit and Sandhya came back to India and chose to settle in the picturesque city of Palampur, where they looked for schools to enrol their five-year-old daughter. After a lot of observation and interaction with the children in their daughter’s school, they felt that the adult behaviour created a setting where children wanted to run away from the teachers, along with the culturally expected fear of mathematics and science.
Gradually, they started going and spending time with the little kids in school after their school hours. What began with basic reading and math games, turned into a full-fledged NGO in 2014 by the name of Aavishkaar. Initially, they started their initiative in a cow shed turned into a library, a classroom made out of a pigsty and aesthetically pleasing furniture carved out of local bamboo. The 3 co-founders strongly believed in their initiative, and Sandhya’s words, “hum sapne dekhne mein maahir hain”. And in its true sense, they were capable of turning their dreams into reality.
Spread over 5 districts, Aavishkaar works with the Government schools to inculcate visual and interactive training sessions in mathematics and science, to make learning simple and fun. They discovered that the curriculum-based books, especially of middle and high school students, and the teaching methods had to be changed to make the children develop a love for the subject. Hence, they took to very affordable and mostly naturally derived models of teaching math and science by taking inspiration from and looking around at daily life examples to teach these students.
Aavishkaar runs an annual training program for teachers, students and a fellowship program for teachers where they are trained thoroughly through conceptual understanding for a year after which the teachers can volunteer in the school of their choice. The organisation has also conducted various student-teacher collaborations in coordination with the Government of various states like Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Assam, Bihar and the Tibetan Government as well. Their mission inspired many organisations that have even collaborated with them, viz. The Nari Gunjan from Bihar and Teach for India, which is a national-level organisation. The best part about their programme is that not only do they emphasize on conceptual and interactive learning, but they also ensure that the teacher training programmes are conducted in the preferred language of the state, to achieve best results.
Aavishkaar has built a friendly foundation of the concepts and given an in-depth & visual experience to their fellows. They work really hard and deliver quality content which reaches the students through trained teachers so that just like them, the students can develop a friendly bond with concepts and molecules become “chotu” and not monsters.
In order to change the teaching system, challenges are bound to come, just like for Aavishkaar, reception amongst the kids was a major challenge as they were worried about how the children would react. But who wouldn’t want to play around and learn fun concepts? Aavishkaar started with handmade bamboo furniture symbolic of cultural pride that the organisation carries proudly. They have brought a revolutionary change in the concept of an ideal teacher and student. They let the children explore their curiosities by conducting experiments and testing their hypothesis on their own. At Aavishkaar foundation, questions and curiosities are celebrated.
Their heart swells with happiness when they see the youth being so voluntary and passionate about bringing a change in the society, something they willingly choose over a well paid corporate job. They learn like children themselves and teach with utmost passion.
Aavishkaar believes that associations should be long term and based on alignment with their initiative. Hence, they’re mostly funded through organisations like The Rotary Club, WIPRO Applying Thoughts and a few CSRs who align with their long term mission.
Being the seekers of nature, the pandemic surely created a roadblock for them, as they could no longer continue to physically meet the students or the teachers. But being adaptive and quick, they developed an online network to virtually connect with their trainees and students. Retaining their true essence, they conduct the online sessions with the same passion, creativity and visuals, through interesting presentations and experiments.
Aavishkaar has conducted training in every district of Himachal since COVID and has trained more than 1000 teachers. In their attempt to reach out to the grassroots organization, Aavishkaar is leading a Science & Maths Collective where 8 organizations have joined for teachers and students’ online training in a yearlong program.
Aavishkaar promotes the heritage of art and music along with science and technology. Through cultural programmes in schools, they celebrate the rich heritage of the arts of India.
Their vision is to develop a teaching programme which is equally accessible to anyone and everyone. They plan to organize more online campaigns for teachers as well as students.
Leaving us a strong message to reawaken the curiosity in children that the current education system is killing, Aavishkaar truly leaves us in awe and inspiration, with the words of Sandhya,
“Jo bhi karo, man laga kar karo. And never let the learner die within you”,
still echoing in our hearts.
Article by Shambhavi Kapoor, Team ulaunch.