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Mridusmita Deka|May 28, 2023
SULTANPUR: Every evening at 4 pm, students from villages around Kamla Nehru Institute of Technology (KNIT), Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh gather in an open area near the banks of river Gomti. They come to attend the two-hour classes run by volunteers of non-profit organisation, Koshish Educational and Welfare Society, since 2011. The children who attend these classes for free hail from “economically and socially backward families”. They are enrolled in Sultanpur government schools but find the Koshish classes a “boon”. The volunteers are students of the engineering college affiliated to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University, Lucknow.
“Our parents are not educated enough to guide us. The teachers at Koshish provide guidance on what we can do in life through education. They are humble and help us to achieve the best according to our capabilities and capacities. We are still connected with Koshish teachers and we still receive guidance from them whenever we need it. Koshish is a boon for us,” said Khusi Vishwakarma who attended these classes till Class 10.
Khusi, now a student of a government polytechnic in Lucknow is among the four girls of Koshish who got selected in 2022.
The non-profit was founded 11 years ago by KNIT Sultanpur alumnus Chetan Giri Goswami and is funded by the institute’s alumni. It has helped marginalised kids secure admission in government polytechnic colleges and central government-run Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNVs). Anshika Yadav, who attended classes from Classes 1 to 10, secured admission in BA Japanese in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) last year. So far, 25 students who attended Koshish classes got admission in JNVs and nine students were selected for government polytechnic colleges
Goswami said Koshish Educational and Welfare Society runs on a free education model with college students volunteering to teach underprivileged kids. “This helps both. On the one hand, college students would improve their communication and comprehension skills and will remain connected through seniors and get guidance and support whenever needed. On the other hand, kids from educationally-backward districts will get free quality education and can dream big,” he said.
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In his third year of BTech in 2011, Goswami established the NGO after he along with his juniors and seniors visited a few villages near KNIT Sultanpur and decided to change the mindsets of villagers towards education. Now, he is a manager at Bank of India’s head office in Mumbai.
“During the village visit, I saw that education was the least priority for the parents of underprivileged children. In those villages, we found that nobody studied even till Class 8 and only a few students were enrolled in primary schools. We found it problematic that on the one hand we had students from KNIT Sultanpur who were leaving their marks in different fields globally, but children from nearby villages of the institute are not able to obtain proper education.” he said.
The classes which started with just five students now teach more than 200 from Classes 1 and 10. Through physical classes, the NGO has taught nearly 2,000 kids in the last 11 years. It also provides guidance to students of Classes 11 and 12.
“When we started our organisation in 2011, we saw that students were not even enrolled in schools. So, our first priority is to find such students in the villages and get them enrolled in government schools after persuading their parents. Initially, parents did not send their kids to our classes as they doubted our motives. Now, they send their children to our classes. We have 30-40 volunteers on a rotational basis,” said Goswami.
The students attending classes here are confident that they will score good marks in their board exams and clear entrance exams for good government schools and colleges.
Riya Nishad, in Class 5 at a government primary school in Sultanpur said: “Compared to my school, I learn more at Koshish classes. The teachers here teach us better. Now, I am preparing for admission in JNV and teachers here are helping me. I am studying hard and will get admission there.”
Tanuj Kumar, a Class 10 student said: “I cannot afford coaching classes to score good marks in the UP board exams. I come here to take classes regularly and the teachers here are solving my doubts. I have prepared well and will pass get first division.”
Six out of seven students of Koshish got first division in Class 10 in 2022.
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The Koshish volunteers are current students of Kamla Nehru Institute of Technology; although most are from UP, they are not all from Sultanpur district.
Aman Yadav from Ghazipur and a final-year BTech student at KNIT Sultanpur said that he feels good seeing positive change in the lives of the children.
“At Koshish, we help them crack school and college admission exams after which they can get quality education at the least expense possible. There is a zeal among the students and some come here regularly from their homes 1.5 km away, some by crossing the river on boats. This must mean we are doing something good for them,” said Yadav.
The volunteers learn too. Raj Aryan, from UP’s Hamirpur district, said he uses the classes as an opportunity to build his own confidence. “Earlier, I did not have the confidence to speak on stage. To gain confidence and improve my conversational skills, I joined this initiative. I believe that if I can convince students to learn the concepts, then I can speak my mind everywhere. The initiative also helped me to become a better human being,” he said Aryan.
The volunteers receive regular support and guidance from alumni.
“I am elated that kids taught by KNIT students are getting admission in JNU, JNV and polytechnic colleges. It would have not been possible without these volunteers as most of the kids learned to dream of doing something big in their life after attending these classes,” said professor Ranjana Singh, department of political science, Kamla Nehru Institute of Physical and Social Sciences (KNIPSS), Sultanpur. Singh has extended support to Koshish and counselled parents and girls.
The KNIT Sultanpur alumni associated with Koshish and holding “good positions” professionally are funding the initiative, said Goswami.
“Initially, I and my classmates contributed money for whiteboards, books, notebooks, bags, duster and other materials. We may go for fundraising in the future depending upon the situation,” he said.
The NGO aims to build a library and book-bank for Sultanpur students in the next two years.
“We are connecting with other states working towards expansion of our model of holding physical classes for underprivileged kids near the colleges,” Goswami said.
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