“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
- Nelson Mandela

Social Responsibility for IL&FS Financial Services is based on the belief that creating possibilities of economic and social inclusion powered by skilling and supporting ways of creating livelihood, is the most effective way to manage challenges posed by poverty, inequality and unemployment in India. The IL&FS Group strongly believes that the infrastructure we are building and financing today will shape the communities of tomorrow.

The evolution of life relies solely on the process of constantly learning; gaining new skills, knowledge, experiences. Mankind has channelized this learning into a more evolved process - Education. Centuries have passed, yet the importance of education as a tool for development has remained unhampered, undebatable.

It seems only radical then, that education be provided to all, be accessible to all. The reality of education in today’s day and age is also preparing the students for employability. It therefore becomes essential to make efforts towards providing skill-based education, apart from sparking the innate curiosity in the minds of children, such that they continue to learn throughout the course of their lives.

IL&FS, through Nalanda Foundation, facilitates many such initiatives in education for students in remote areas of the country. These initiatives support the local education authorities provide advanced learning to students, over and above their school curriculum. It exposes them to newer avenues and helps them spark their innate curiosity.

“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover, with accuracy, the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”
― Plato

Introduction to Basic Technology (IBT)

To nurture scientific temper amongst students in a traditional society like India, is very important. It may not be incorrect to state that the development temper is related to basic alignment with scientific principles. Based on this thought, various initiatives are designed by IFIN to nurture scientific curiosity amongst rural school children.

&FS has been very keen on contributing to upgrading the quality of education. The ‘Introduction to Basic Technology’ (IBT) curriculum, which focuses on ‘Learning while doing’ has been designed by an award-winning committed volunteer Dr. Yogesh Kulkarni of the NGO, Vigyan Ashram, situated in village Pabal, which is 70 kilometres from Pune. The IBT programme is being conducted in the catchment area of Khed Sinnar Expressway Limited (KSEL). 469 students have already benefitted from this initiative. As part of this programme, students are required to do community service. Education and development has been integrated to give students an opportunity to learn. Various activities in the field of engineering, energy, environment, agriculture, animal husbandry, food processing, home and health, are taught to the students; all activities are in line with the curricular subjects of science, mathematics and social sciences.

Efforts are being made to bring about a change from ‘book-centred education’ to ‘work-centred education’, linking school education to everyday activities, and thus making education meaningful. Other goals are to demonstrate the use of appropriate technologies to the community through the school, such as 3D printing and digital fabrication technology. The positive impact of the IBT Programme is reflected in the building up of scientific curiosity and methodological discipline for scientific experiments in the students.

The IBT programme is currently benefitting about 8000 students in 19 districts of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Karnataka. The IBT programme has been recognised as a pre-vocational programme by the Government of Maharashtra, and as a ‘Multi Skill Foundation Course’ under the new ‘National Skill Qualification Framework’.

Science Bus

‘Mobile Science Lab’, also known as 'Science Bus' is a wonderful initiative by IL&FS Financial Services, run in association with Agastya International Foundation (AIF) and Nalanda Foundation, in the catchment areas of Barwa Adda Expressway Limited (BAEL) in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand. ‘Science Bus’ is engaged in creating new opportunities for scientific exploration for school children, teachers and parents alike.

Each bus travels to remote schools with hands-on science models covering a wide range of topics in Physics, Chemistry and Biology for students of Class 5 through Class 10. The teaching approach is consistent with the National Curriculum Framework and the topics overlap the NCERT syllabus. The demonstration sessions emphasise interaction and a questioning attitude. Night community visits allow the child beneficiary’s parents, family and community members to participate in learning sessions about various beneficial topics.

Two Mobile Science Labs, each with two instructors, have been deployed in Government schools of Dhanbad since April 2016. The ‘Young Instructor’ programme is especially effective in propagating the spread of knowledge through peer-to-peer learning. The programme aims to reach 9,300 students across 40 schools within three years, ensuring academic development of the targeted students. Teacher training programmes aim to motivate creative thinking and problem-solving skills among government school teachers. The scaling up of this programme is already underway, with IFIN and AIF looking at possible expansions in terms of curricular subjects and other regions within the state

The Science Bus also visits surrounding villages during holidays and in the evenings, setting up interactive models at popular spots, thus sparking their curiosity, developing a positive relationship with the villagers, and motivating them to send their kids to school.

A very powerful and innovative instrument to enhance rural education and make hands-on education increasingly accessible, the Science Bus is a catalytic channel that is fun, engaging and interactive, already reaching about 16000 students per annum. Over a 3–5 year focused intervention, it has been noted that children start demonstrating problem-solving and leadership skills. Having been introduced to participatory, hands-on learning, these children are confident, have high self-esteem and are ready to take on the world. Post their school education, they are able to pursue higher education, look for employment, and thus are able to improve their economic status, breaking the cycle of poverty.

The English Helper

The English Helper programme, an initiative being run in the catchment area of Narayangaon in Maharashtra, aims to enable a better understanding of the fundamentals of English Language usage, and developing reading habits among students. It is an exclusive facilitator-led English programme which works on improving reading, comprehension, and expression of students, addressing the day-to-day challenges of students in using the English language. The programme uses simple content, including text books, the dictionary, newspapers, and library books. This programme has improved student engagement, better retention of knowledge and better learning outcomes through the usage of activities such as role-play and interactive teaching-learning material.

&FS focuses on fostering the socio-economic growth of the nation through capacity building and improving education.

Authored by:
Dhwani Chandel
Corporate Communications
IL&FS Financial Services (IFIN)

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