Make A Difference – IIM Trichy
Life at a B-school teaches us a lot of things – time management, multi-tasking, paraphrasing, and the one thing we are most adept at is, presentations. A B-school graduate is capable of dishing out a presentation with his eyes closed and hands behind his back. All this, to get us up to speed to the corporate world post our b-school journey. But to what extent does it makes us wary of the troubles plaguing our society? Will we all end up becoming straight up white collars, with hedonic career goals and oblivious to the under-privileged populace amongst us?
There is a notable urge to make a difference among the students, which most b-schools in the country are taking cognizance of. They are aware that it is critical for new age managers to give back to the society in which we flourish in. Indian Institute of Management Tiruchirappalli is also driven to make a positive impact to the society through its Make a Difference a.k.a. MAD projects.
The idea for the MAD projects are clear. Teams of 5-6 pick up an issue in our ecosystem where they feel they can make a difference. We started around August last year and presented our work over the course of the year on 14th August 2016. During this time, we got to see our batch-mates run around the city in bicycles, bikes, busses you name it and reaching out to schools, old age homes and smaller sub sections of the society with earnest smiles on their faces. Indeed this will to work wasn’t inherent in most of us, in fact it was rather difficult in the beginning. The first question raised by a majority of us was, “We have assignments to complete, competitions to take part and academics to rack our brains around; where is the time for this?” But one interaction with the school children, or a cup of tea with the elderly, convinced most of us that this project is definitely more than just the hours spent over a book or presentation.
A fellow MAD team which assisted special children in making creative products and sold them to the public
Our particular project was based on a school called Hazrath Natharvalli in the Chatiram region in Trichy. The school started off as a community education centre run within the complex of a Durgah. Established since 45 years, the school stands in the middle of a low income community that survives on daily wages, primarily through semi-skilled jobs such as bidi workers, auto drivers etc. Many students assist their parents in their jobs as a result of which there is high levels of absenteeism. Also because many of the parents haven’t gone through any formal education and hence the children have also developed an indifference to education.
During our first visit to the school, we were all slightly apprehensive. Where would the school be? Would we able to communicate with the children at all? Would we feel alienated there? But the minute we stepped into the premises of the school, most apprehensions were driven out. The excitement on the faces of the kids on seeing us was unprecedented. They addressed all of us as ‘didi’ and ‘bhaiya’, (in tamil) almost as if they knew us and all the more surprisingly could even speak basic English without any trouble. One of our members, being a Tamilian, was able to communicate with the faculty and board members, to understand the root cause of this low attendance, especially in the morning classes. We interviewed the teachers and the Headmaster and took surveys to come to this root cause. Also because as MBAs, that’s what we love doing, ‘Primary Research’.
The children of the school were highly receptive of our presence and greeted us during every visit.
We learnt that the students love to attend classes and learn, but were not given any push at all from their parents; so to address this we decided to come up with a zero period where we would show short movies and videos to engage the students and facilitate group activities. Our main goal was to ensure that the students were driven enough to come to school by themselves, even when the push from their families were missing. After a few trial runs, we were glad to see our efforts reap rewards when we noted almost a 100% attendance on the days when we administered the zero period. The school teachers and Principal were appreciative of our contribution and hoped that we kept visiting the school frequently to motivate the students.
We plan to visit the school again and hold a small session for the kids during children’s day. Not to mention the chocolates we have promised them on our return trip to the school. At the end after a long day of the MAD presentations of the 14th of August, we could see the satisfaction in all the MAD teams to have gotten the chance to work with the lesser fortunate sections of the society and having made some positive change in them.
After all, “We are all Making A Difference here”, at IIM Trichy!