Only 20.8% of the students studying in Std III-VIII can read Std II level text in Surat, Gujarat (ASER 2022). This number has significantly increased over the past couple of years, and one of the contributing factors to this upward shift was a wonted bus stop.
One day, a lawyer joined her friends to go and teach underprivileged children at a bus stop in Surat. This small act of kindness paved the way for the creation of the co-founder of the Asaadharan Foundation - Aastha A Kanodia. Ever since that moment, Aastha had one goal in mind: for the betterment of the Education system present in Surat.
“While Surat is famous for its diamonds and silks, it is not famous for its Education levels, which is something I wish to change”, said Aastha when asked why she stepped into the Education sphere.
Asaadharan Foundation incepted its programs with a core team of three in 2016 and formally registered itself in 2019. Currently, they have multiple projects running parallel, like the Accelerated Learning Programme, which focuses on bringing students who have dropped out up-to-speed in the curriculum of Grades, which they still need to catch up on to resume their Educational journey. They are the only organisation in Surat working with the government at various levels, ranging from teaching 4000 teachers as part of the District Institute of Educational and Training (DIET) to aiding in government schools and elevating the Educational standards in the respective schools.
While working in this sector requires a lot of passion, something that goes unnoticed is that there are a multitude of career opportunities up for grabs in this field, and this is something that Aastha learned after becoming part of the 2021 cohort of TFIx. Good attracts good is actualised by collaborations like TFIx and entrepreneurs like Aastha, as the cohort helped her refine and structure the organisation. Whether it be budget planning, pitching, or bringing a work culture to the team, the cohort truly equipped her for everything. Asaadharan Foundation started its Fellowship named The School Project with its own set of Fellows named “Edu-Leaders”.
Since it is a community Fellowship, the Edu-Leaders are selected from the same environment they are teaching in.
“The basic idea is to adopt a government school and be involved in every aspect of the school's functioning, for example, seating arrangement. We are targeting grades 1-8 and have expansion plans,” told Aastha about The School Project.
When the Fellowship was started, Aastha was also pregnant, and it is highly commendable to note that she worked till the day she delivered; even on the days she could not be physically present, she used to take calls and have conversations with the relevant stakeholders of The Student Project as she was spearheading the project. Caring for every child just like yours is a virtue that very few possess, and Aastha A Kanodia is one of those people.
It is truly inspiring to see how individuals like Aastha work, and her team is touching the lives of more than 2000+ students and the 7-9 Edu-Leaders who are also an integral part of the team. Being an Edu-Leader is more than just a teacher, as Aastha believes in the motto of “Learning By Doing”. Allocating more work to the Edu-Leaders gives them early exposure, which enables them to develop problem-solving skills and leadership qualities. The Student Project believes that even if you don't know how to perform a task, the best way to learn is by trying to accomplish the task, which sets the Asaadharan Foundation apart from the others in the country.
“Changing the definition of Education from just reading and mugging up to being environmentally aware, socially responsible and ethically equipped is something I am striving for in the coming years”, envisions Aastha.
We wish Aastha all the best on her journey and can not wait to see her visions transform into reality.