Non-conventional education is not just a concept any longer. With education going digital in the past year due to the lockdown, it has become important for parents and teachers to assess a child’s learning styles and needs. The distance learning and digital education platform has just further proven the importance of conventional and non-conventional education system.
We got into a conversation with Sheetal Bapat, Founder Director of Shyamchi Aai Foundation, an NGO that has been relentlessly working on Right to Right Education for everyone. By launching Seekhlo they’ve brought the non-conventional learning and career counselling, somethings that were available only for a few privileged, to the less fortunate.
ThinkRight.me: What is the idea behind starting Seekhlo?
Sheetal Bapat: Scaleup Edutech has launched Seekhlo.com which is an e-learning platform designed for curated courses in regional languages. These courses are based on sound theoretical frameworks, contextualised to Indian situations and mind-sets. The mission of Seekhlo.com is to add value and help solve the problems of Indian users.
Through our not-for-profit organisation Shyamchi Aai Foundation (www.safindia.org), we have been working for Right to Right Education by ensuring access to informed career choices and life skill development for every child. We do this by trying to strengthen the entire ecosystem of schools, teachers, government and parents. During the course of our work, we realised the importance of technology to help scale up access and impact. We have successfully used technology to conduct more than 1 crore free Interest and Aptitude Tests as well as Online Teacher training through engaging content.
Our aim is to curate content from serious content creators and be the catalysts in enhancing learning that the users can apply and grow.
ThinkRight.me: What is the goal of Seekhlo when it comes to promoting a non-conventional learning ecosystem?
Sheetal Bapat: The non-conventional learning ecosystem was already gaining a lot of importance in the last decade. However, post-pandemic, distance and online learning will be an integral part of the new normal. In online learning, learner engagement has always been a major challenge. With our prior experience of training a cohort of 41, 000 secondary school teachers for 4 years with a dropout rate of less than 2 percent in Marathi language, we have a solid experience of the technology preparedness of the learners in India. We also have an experience in creating engaging content based on proven theoretical frameworks such that learners can apply the knowledge gained in their daily lives. Hence, we feel Seekhlo aims to contribute to the non-conventional ecosystem by ways of easy access, quality and excellence and relevance.
ThinkRight.me: Why do you think that it’s important for students to have the liberty to choose their fields?
Sheetal Bapat: The future is getting more and more challenging. It is impossible to predict what kind of career opportunities will exist in the next five years.
We have already understood today the word ‘scope’ has shifted from the field of career to the person. Every person has equal opportunity to create their own scope in their field of interest.
Most of the parents have experienced a relatively stable or I would say predictable career path, hence they find it very difficult to relate to the choices ahead of today’s students. The 21st century has also opened a wide choice of career opportunities. Hence, in today’s age it has become very important for students to have the liberty of making informed career choices.
ThinkRight.me: How is Seekhlo structured to help students make more informed career decisions?
Sheetal Bapat: As we all know that a career is not a one-time event, but it is a continuous process. Normally a student makes a first choice of education options for careers in grade 10th and again in grade 12. However, it is very important to start planning about these choices ideally from Grade 8. As the adage goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Normally it is seen that last minute career decisions are made more based on peer pressure, parent or family opinion, marks obtained and so on. However, these choices must be based on the individual student’s interest, aptitudes and then matching them to available opportunities. Parents and teachers need to partner with the child in making these informed choices. Seekhlo’s Online Career Mitra -Career Assessment test provides the best tool for the students to understand their Interest and aptitudes.
This assessment has been used by more than 1 crore students and is certified by the University of Pune. It is available free of cost on Seekhlo.com, this online assessment is available in 3 languages Hindi, Marathi and English and is available for students from grade 8th to 12th. The self-explanatory report will help students and parents with vital insights for better career planning.
ThinkRight.me: What does a typical day look like for you? Any mindfulness activity that you follow to give your very best to your day?
Sheetal Bapat: Work from home is the current normal, it is more about balancing your home and work roles. With two grown up daughters, the elder one having finished her MBBS, quality time with family is the greatest high at the end of a busy day. The routine is really busy, but in the past 2 years of the pandemic setting in, there is a certain restlessness and pain you feel towards families who have heavily suffered and lost their dear ones. Mindfulness about small things in life has increased in this phase. Suddenly things you could take for granted before have become a luxury. Regular meditation has surely helped me anchor myself in these times.
ThinkRight.me: What’s the legacy that you want to create with this initiative?
Sheetal Bapat: If we don’t shape our kids, they will be shaped by outside forces that don’t care what shape our kids are in.
~ Dr. Louise Hart
This is the truth. This initiative of Seekhlo and ThinkRight.me should help every parent and child to shape their future in a more meaningful, purposeful and positive way. The true legacy would be when all of us who are blessed with the privilege of guiding our children at every step, will also start guiding the children, especially teenagers around us who are less privileged and first-generation learners and help them also reach their true potential. That’s the thriving society we would like to see and contribute to.
ThinkRight.me: Anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
Sheetal Bapat: We have started with some very useful online courses on Seekhlo.com for parents. The first one is the Art of Communicating with teenagers and the second one is Be your Childs Career Buddy, these courses will surely equip parents and teachers to rise up the demanding role of guiding teenagers.
We also believe in creating safe and equal workplaces and have an online course “Prevention of Sexual Harrassment at Workplaces – Law and beyond” this course will not only help all organisations comply with the mandatory provisions of the law since this is the only course certified by the Maharashtra State Commission for Women but will also help change mindsets at workplaces.
The learners will surely find the difference in the content offered by Seekhlo and that they can quickly apply it in their day-to-day life.
You can support the Shyamchi Aai Foundation by making a donation or volunteering.
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