What was the idea behind Aawaaz?
The idea behind the venture came as we saw that our students have the ability to speak but require the skills and a platform to showcase these abilities. We soon realized that the problem is systemic and does not exist only in government schools but in private schools as well. That’s when we founded Awaaz in 2015. We started off as an organisation with a vision to change the way education was perceived in India. In a country where standardised curriculums restrict the students to a cycle of rote memorization and writing exams, Aawaaz started modifying the curriculum to make it more interactive. With an initiation in the field of education with a focus on critical thinking, general awareness and public speaking, we started taking classes in various schools, ranging from grade 3rd to 12th grade, with different courses to best suit the grades involved. For the more senior students (grade 9th-12th), we also provided training in the fields of debate and MUN (Model United Nations), to help prepare them for utilising the core skills Aawaaz adopted in competitive spaces.
What are the critical gaps in the Indian education system that you intend to fill?
After identifying critical thinking, general awareness and public speaking as the core skills required to make education holistic, we set out to design a module with a focus on just these skills in order to involve students more actively in class. The mode of delivery of our sessions differs from that of traditional teaching mechanisms, as we make it a point to be mere facilitators for the ideas of the students instead of telling them what to think and learn. By designing various activities that help in imbibing the skills of critical thinking and public speaking in their learning, school or otherwise, we try to ensure that the students are able to apply it in different scenarios, giving them full scope to ideate, while teaching them how to logically view different situations.
How many schools have you worked with over the last few years? Do you face any resistance from schools while inculcating this learning routine?
We have worked with over 100 low-income and private schools all over the country. We rarely face any resistance from schools because of our interesting curriculum. The pedagogical tools that we use are different for every school and cater to our students’ needs.
What kind of challenges have you faced during your journey?
One of the major problems faced when trying to execute an innovative curriculum in India is making the schools understand the relevance and importance of the core skills that we have identified. These are life skills that makes our students question the things they are learning and have learnt, and gain more perspective instead of approaching it in a limited way.
Any real classroom examples you would like to share …
In Psychology and Research, our facilitator explained the ethical values of a psychologist through an activity. In the activity, the students were asked to identify one core ethical value and make a poster around the importance of the same. Similarly, in Social Entrepreneurship and Development, the students were asked to develop a strategy to mobilise literate women to join an organisation.
Where is the startup now?
Aawaaz is currently working in both the for-profit and not for profit sectors. We work with private schools across the country, carrying out training in both curricular and extra-curricular disciplines, as part of our profitable activities. From there we divert funds towards our non-profit activities, which is why we started the Aawaaz Foundation. The aim of the Aawaaz Foundation was to achieve educational equity between private schools and low-income schools by enhancing their critical thinking, public speaking and general awareness levels. The Aawaaz Foundation is currently working with unrecognized schools who lack proper support, curriculum, and even teachers. These schools are usually the ones who are neglected and ignored this is where the Aawaaz Foundation comes in as we provide student training which equips them with leadership skills not only through their books but also the activities that we curate for them. We recently organized the Aawaaz Conclave at the India International Centre for students belonging to marginalized communities.
Vijendra Choudhary is the Author & Co-Founder of the Arealnews.com. He has also completed his BCA & MCA in Computer Engineering from RTU Rajasthan. He is passionate about Blogging & Digital Marketing. He has 5+ years of experience in Digital Marketing.