Illuminate – A Student Initiative

Right to Education. Right to Empowerment.

Philosophy behind the programme

“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets."  Leonardo da Vinci

As students, we have enjoyed the learning environment at Head Start Educational Academy, as it is conducive to students working independently and enables the joy of self-discovery. Strong belief in the individual growth of each child is enhanced by the opportunity to learn from other students. The school’s inherent philosophy promotes the development of harmonious relationships between older and younger learners, allowing the younger ones to learn from their seniors and grow together.  Keeping this in mind, as high school students we were able to reach out and assist our juniors, and be role models to them.

Our Programme

Head Start believes in providing each student with equal opportunity to achieve their maximum potential. Under the RTE act, students from diverse underprivileged backgrounds are admitted. To enable them to work towards reaching their potential, we believe it is our prime responsibility to provide each of them with an equal footing.

Keeping in mind the school's philosophy, we, the Grade 11 Class of 2018 introduced a programme titled Illuminate, to further assist children from underprivileged backgrounds. We conduct individual classes after school hours for these children, catering to their specific needs--an attempt to bridge the gap in their language and mathematical abilities. The additional attention and assistance provided to these students helps them gain confidence, improves their academic abilities, and the ability to cope with their regular classes.

Getting the parents on board

Another aspect of setting up the programme, was getting in touch with the parents of the children concerned. We requested them to come to school one afternoon, and explained to them what we were doing, and why we were doing it. We were very excited to find that not only were these parents on board with the whole idea, but that they also seemed grateful and appreciative. They told us about their children and their special interests; we were receiving tips on how to work with them. One of the students, we learned, quite liked plants. Another was interested in buildings. One set of parents implored us to work on their daughter’s spelling. Despite the fact that more than one language for communication was required e.g. we had two people translating English to Tamil and back, interacting with the parents was an eye-opening experience, and gave us the push we needed to get started as soon as possible.

The programme is over a year old now. In the process of helping these students, we have also learned from them and enriched our own experience.

– Amartya Menon, Ananya Komerla, Esha Gupta, Mohanish Bajaj, Tanisha Mandhana

Our Thoughts

"I have grown up in an environment where the older kids have always helped the younger ones. My seniors have taught me a lot of key life skills, and through Illuminate, I want to help my juniors the way my seniors helped me."
– Mohanish Bajaj, Grade 11

"The art of peer learning encouraged us to develop this programme, and has allowed me to provide the students involved with an opportunity to enhance their learning abilities. To see each of these kids grow into more confident beings has been a truly rewarding experience."
– Tanisha Mandhana, Grade 11

"I started this programme for the kids because it is what I felt they needed, and, along the way, I discovered something that made me look forward to each week."
– Esha Gupta, Grade 11

"Few things are as fulfilling as inspiring another person to crave more knowledge, and working with these children let me experience exactly that. A truly humbling experience."
– Amartya Menon, Grade 11

"I believe in giving back and I wanted to help these children achieve the vast potential that each of them possesses by giving them a little confidence."
– Ananya Komerla, Grade 11