How two Acumen Fellows are disrupting the education model in India
Whether its running youth soccer programs, providing vocational training services, or transforming the education system in India, Acumen India Fellows are driving real change in their communities. Abbas Dadla and Abhilasha Sinha are India Fellows who are addressing the teacher shortage in India through the use of technology and peer collaboration. Find out what they are building below. If you have grit, resilience and a commitment to creating change in your community in India, East Africa or Pakistan, we encourage you to apply for the Regional Fellowship Program!
India is short over 1.2 million teachers, with the pupil-teacher ratio remaining at 43:1. This scarcity leaves low-income students priced out of a market for learning that relies predominantly on the availability of high quality teachers. Acumen fellows Abbas Dadla and Abhilasha Sinha are helping to disrupt this model through the use of technology and peer collaboration through their work at Avanti Learning Centres.
Avanti provides low-income high school students with the tools to learn independently through peer groups, instructional videos, and textbooks rather than relying on lectures from subject matter experts. Students have access to over 300 volunteers from the most prestigious colleges in India who serve as mentors and coaches. Because Avanti is not teacher dependent they are able to operate at a fraction of the cost of traditional coaching centres. Abbas and Abhilasha are part of an Avanti team that is young, energetic, dynamic and passionate about driving innovations that could create a more inclusive educational system for millions of students in India.
A global movement to disrupt traditional work
Acumen is observing a movement of individuals across sectors seeking not just a pay check but meaning from their professional lives. Graduates of IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi respectively, both came to Avanti as college volunteers and opted to forgo private sector jobs to join the team fulltime post-graduation.
Abhilasha manages Avanti’s centres in North India focusing on improving curriculum and the day to day operations of programs in Delhi and Kanpur. Growing up a high achiever, she spent the majority of her life chasing the traditionally accepted milestones of success. In her final year at IIT, she realised defining personal success by external measures of achievement was not leading to fulfilment and made the choice to join Avanti full time. The work is hard, the hours are long, but the measure of success has shifted outward to how many doors can be opened for others. Success is creating an environment that encourages collaboration and perseverance. In Abhilasha’s words, “Seeing students evolve, watching them express themselves and question everything around them and evolve into independent learners and good team players is what drives me now. I still love milestones. The only difference is that now I define those milestones for myself, I don’t let others define them for me.”
Now the Regional Manager of Avanti’s Mumbai operations, Abbas describes a dedicated nimble team that is learning at the edge, “The atmosphere is that of a typical start-up where there are no clear solutions. The amount of responsibility is enormous, which is not something you could get this early in your career at a large established corporation”. Abbas is motivated by a career that allows him to step out of the conventional hierarchy and give back. “I have always believed that instead of looking for jobs, we must be looking for problems to solve. If the problem you are trying to solve is meaningful enough then everything else will fall into place.”
Are you disrupting traditional work and driving social change?