Techie gives up job to improve primary education

Techie gives up job to improve primary education

Techie gives up job to improve primary education

When Anoop Gupta, who was working as an IT consultant in Switzerland, decided to quit a lucrative job and return to his roots in Lucknow, he had only one thing in mind and that was how to carry forward and fulfill the dream of his father to educate each and every child. Anoop’s father, a retired government employee, had set-up a school in the walled city, where he taught poor and deprived children despite being over 70.

And hence “Ankuram”, that literally means germination, came into being. Anoop set up I Care, a voluntary organisation, to contribute his bit in the process of development. Ankuram was launched with the specific purpose of improving primary education in Uttar Pradesh. “The name was chosen with a specific purpose…I knew very well that we cannot think of development unless we improve our primary education system…it is because the seeds of education are sown in children only during this period,” Anoop told Deccan Herald.

It was  well known that the current state of affairs of primary education in Uttar Pradesh was poor and required a lot of work despite the efforts from the successive governments. Anoop said that after returning to Lucknow, he  carefully studied about the primary education scenario in the state.  “First I did my homework properly and it took me three years. Then, I turned my attention to one of the primary schools at Raitha village, which is close to the state capital,” he said. 

“Programme Ankuram is an initiative of I Care aimed at transforming the government primary schools in collaboration with the UP government and University of Lucknow and others…it has picked up steam with many desirable outcomes towards its objectives of improving quality in the target Government primary schools,” Anoop says.

Basically, Ankuram has four major aims of transforming government primary schools. First, community mobilisation is making people understand the importance of the primary education. “It is done by Nukkad Natak (street plays), exposure tour through which regularity of students and increased enrolment are ensured. It is indeed very important step towards changing the scenario of government primary education,” he points out.

Also the academics in the schools are checked by providing co-teachers in case of staff shortage ensuring whether child is given class work/homework, making child understand general scientific processes as it helps in increasing their general knowledge. 

Ankuram also focuses on the extracurricular activities like sports, art, dance, music etc., focus on health through medical camps at schools. Simple behavioural changes are also checked like hair cutting, nail trimming and following dress code. It also focuses on the infrastructure development of schools by maintaining clean and green campus. All these are done by the volunteers who are whole-heartedly involved in making a change through Ankuram. 

A group of 20 to 30 student volunteers is allotted one government primary school, under the supervision of one group officer. These volunteers are awarded for their work which encourages them to continue with good work. 

In its first phase, the programme has demonstrated its maturity, sustainability factor and capacity to scale up. Deserving student volunteers, their faculties and supporting primary school staff have been recently recognised and rewarded by Raj Shekhar, the district magistrate of Lucknow, and  Lucknow University Vice Chancellor S B Nimse. 

“It has motivated all stakeholders and deepened the level of commitment towards the programme,” he says. Anoop has also been trying to rope in the corporate sector in his initiative. And the response was encouraging. “Several corporate houses have shown keen interest…it will certainly give a boost to our efforts,” he adds.

The organisation regularly conducts meetings and holds interactive sessions with different stakeholders. Recently it held an interactive session on “institutional collaboration” in which it invited managers and principals/directors of universities and associated colleges/institutions to get important inputs regarding the Ankuram programme. “It was aimed at tapping potential to include Ankuram programme module in higher education in larger interest of the community and the students,” he said.

Managers and principals of various degree colleges participated in these session and shared their experiences and views.

He said that in all 100 primary schools had been chosen for the purpose of developing infrastructure there. “Of the 100 schools 56 are from the rural areas in different blocks around the state capital,” he added.

Under the programme, construction of boundary walls around the schools, making available drinking water facilities, provision of power and construction of toilets--both for boys and girls--have been taken up.

“I knew that it was very difficult to change the mindset of the teachers and other lower level government officials…but without their help nothing was possible and so I decided to persuade them to join the initiatives…the results have been very encouraging and now the teachers also realise that there is a need to improve the primary education in the state,” Anoop says with a sense of satisfaction. 

He says that more and more youths have been joining the initiative on a voluntary basis. “Student volunteers from various degree colleges are also associated with it… More than 3,000 students have joined till now with a motive to transform the primary education,” he added. 

Anoop says that he has a long way to go. “What we are doing is small. We need to take it to the entire country,” he adds.

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