Since 2013, VITeach’s volunteers, aged between 17 and 20, have been teaching underprivileged children and helping them grow.

A group of young girls in school uniform smiling into the cameraAll images: VITeach
news Feature Tuesday, December 01, 2020 - 17:53

“The moment you open the gate and enter the playground, they come running up to you with those innocent eyes and it is just heart-warming. You’ll keep wanting to come back more,” says 20-year-old Archana*. Every day for the past seven years, a team of three to five volunteers from the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) has visited several Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare (ADW) school campuses, to teach children. Started in 2013, VITeach is a student-run social outreach club in VIT that aims to make a positive impact on the lives of underprivileged children, by working with stakeholders.

With a dedicated team of volunteers, VITeach has been able to include the English language into the ADW curriculum and support children with psycho-social disabilities, to bring about a change in their lives.

One thing that really struck a chord with the VITeach club members was the eagerness of the students to learn English. Being unable to speak in English, the members say, had a negative social and mental impact on the students. The club soon began teaching English in government schools. “If they are to compete with private school students, they need a level playing field, which is not provided through the Samacheer Kalvi textbooks,” Archana says.

VITeach has many innovative teaching methods in its repertoire. Two of the most effective ones they say are games and plays. They play Dumb Charades with primary school students to make them learn simple English words. For high school students, they use a more methodical way of teaching, such as crafting colourful charts and sticking educational graffiti on their classroom walls, in an attempt to make sure they remember what they are learning. They are also in the process of writing and enacting plays and skits for the students.

This year, things changed due to the pandemic, but VITeach has adapted. The club curated an online digital learning library that makes free online learning content available to the students. Seeing that at least one member in a family had access to a smartphone and the internet, the club made a WhatsApp group to circulate the content.

VITeach says that every member contributes from their hearts, whether it is to teach school students or curate their syllabus or come up with innovative teaching methods, which includes animated digital content for students who otherwise don’t have access to it. The club also focuses on basic etiquette, adding that the VIT management has been very supportive of their efforts.

The club of 17 to 20-year-olds also helps students with psycho-social disabilities and developmental disorders like Down syndrome and dyslexia and has arranged medical health camps in the schools. They also held awareness and sensitisation programmes to help other students empathise with persons with disabilities.

The club members say that their biggest reward is the love and affection they receive in return. “Listening to their stories got me thinking how hard life is for some people. But they don’t stop smiling because of the hurdles. While everyday might be a struggle, they never lose hope and try to make everyone around them happy. I’m so grateful to be a part of this wonderful club,” says 20-year-old Madhumitha*, who has been working as a volunteer for a year.

*Name changed

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