Sayed Mohammad Shoeb : A Rising Star In The Field Of Education Upliftment
Education is the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world to bring about change. India has a 70% population living in rural areas. The literacy rate is about 77% only. Still, about 25% of our country’s population is living in the dark, with no knowledge of what is happening beyond their villages. Most blame the government or local education boards or negligence of authorities in that region etc. The population of India is approx 130 crore and 597,483 inhabited villages in India. How is it possible for any governing body to cover each village and take the literacy rate to 100%.?
At the same time, it is important that we reach maximum villages and bring change at the grass root level. This can happen when the citizens also participate in this process. If the majority of citizens think positively on these lines and try to do their own bit to help bring about awakening, this darkness in some parts of the country will reduce.
One such awakened young man is Sayed Mohammad Shoeb.
Sayed Mohammad Shoeb actually took it upon himself to sacrifice his bright career and followed his heart’s calling to work towards educating the underprivileged. He talks strongly about education equality and the empowerment of underprivileged communities.
Sayed Mohammad Shoeb was born in Mumbai, near a community slum area of Worli. His parents were from a humble background. His father was a first-generation migrant from Uttar Pradesh. His mother was a homemaker, from a conservative background, yet she always encouraged Shoeb to study further. Coming from a difficult background, he was always sensitive to children growing up in these areas.
In spite of all their hardships, his family supported him throughout his education phase. Sayed Mohammad Shoeb was always brilliant in his studies and never went astray. His Uncle mentored him throughout.
As he could not get into medical colleges due to financial constraints, he took up engineering instead. He moved to Pune for further studies. During this period, he started questioning himself, like most young adults. Whether he was actually doing what he really wanted to do? What was the purpose of this life? What are his future goals? And each time, his calling bent towards socially relevant projects which could make an impact on society.
He started volunteering for various social initiatives during his college days. This connected him with ground realities and actual issues of people. Reading about other inspirational personalities shaped his thought processes.
In 2014, he got into hard-core social projects and started working full-fledged with 60 students in Patel Estate slums. The next big step forward was working with Upay NGO, and soon he was in the founding members’ team, managing Pune. The activities were upscaled and soon they had three centers running in Pune. Many volunteers and teachers joined this movement. One of their projects was Footpath Shala, which Shoeb took charge of and had over 100 street children under his wing. He worked with a lot of difficult communities.
He knew he had to become financially independent and not depend on his family and burden them further. So, in his free time, he started teaching professionally as well. He took tuition and taught in some coaching classes also. People who have the willpower to succeed in their goals, always find their way out, somehow.
Shoeb says, “Any significant change we can see in this world is only through education.”
Once again, life put forward crossroads where he had to take a major career decision; he finished his engineering in 2018. This is where people falter and follow the herd. But Shoeb was not an easy one to sway. He was offered lucrative jobs abroad. Even opportunities to study further in Germany and Europe with scholarships. It was a huge temptation to let go. His family stood by his decision and encouraged him to follow his heart. Shoeb was clear that living in India, teaching the underprivileged, an area from where he came, and giving them an opportunity that will change their lives, was his ultimate goal.
He says, ”If I go to Germany, there will be one Shoeb who will get a degree and a good career ahead, but if I stay back and teach many more children like Shoeb, then many more Shoebs will get an opportunity to get degrees and one day improves the lives of many more. He wanted to break the chain of poverty. Ripple effect !! – This is what makes him stand apart.
He then started his own project with some friends, – After school center– L.I.T. academy. He started with 10 students, in 3 months it reached 100 students and by the year-end, they had 250 students. He had 22 staff members working at LIT. In year one, they made 22 lakhs in revenue, and in year two they crossed 50 lakhs and had 40% students under their scholarship.
He received the Reliance Foundation Teachers Award in 2020 for his contribution.
At the ripe age of 23 years, he had a very good experience by then, especially in leadership skills. He soon realized that to take this movement forward, he needs to broaden his horizon, and that’s when he joined Teach For India. He launched the “No Child Left Behind” in the school where he did his fellowship project which was a great success. Working with TFI gave him a completely different dimension to his overall work. He got a lot of exposure which honed his leadership skills further.
He co-developed the Summer Bridge program to address learning loss in 40 classrooms through creating differential learning packages.
And in 2020, this led him to then establish his next organization – The Panaah Communities.
This was based in urban slum areas. Shoeb explains that the aim of Paanah center is,” – To help low-income communities improve their lives by driving social equity and learning equity within the community.”
This was a strong move, working with students by giving them educational support and with parents, in terms of strengthening their parenting skills and improving their digital and financial aspects. Currently, they have 5 centers in Pune and he feels incredibly proud of his decision. They covered over 200 families and over 1500 children by developing programs for accelerated learning, reducing dropout rates, and increasing matriculation through NIOS.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. In the first year, they ran a ‘SUPER- 30’ batch to teach high-will and high-skill students who didn’t have access to good quality teaching in their grade 10th, and all of these students scored excellently in their boards.
Simultaneously, along with Rizvi Aquil Abbas, he co-founded the Voyage Educare Foundation under which they started the ‘Raabta School Transformation Program ‘which got a tremendous boast. Their aim was to co-create organizational strategies to help the local curriculum. They are currently working with 25 schools in Kashmir, Kargil, and Uttar Pradesh by actively partnering with stakeholders ultimately impacting the learning outcomes of 12000 students by capacity building of 250 plus teachers and 50 school leaders.
Their motto is, to develop these schools in such a way that they become the center of change. Their focus was rural areas. Panaah communities worked in urban areas and the Raabta program was activated in rural areas as they lacked exposure.
Progress follows hard work, for sure. The path is never easy, yet every challenge pushed him further. The Raabta project won IIM Bangalore’s NSRCEL incubation for social impact award, came in the top 9 out of 350 entries, and secured a huge grant.
Next, he was selected as a Changelooms fellow under Pravah NGO. and was also given funding.
For Panaah project, he received support from various corporates and CSR funds like Bajaj and Thermax, under the leadership of Ms. Meher Padumjee and Ms. Anu Aga. The high point of his career was when the entire National Advisory Board of Teach for India came to his center and was highly impressed.
The vision and Mission are to build these two organizations and scale them up positively and do high-impact work. LIT has one center, Panaah communities have 5 centers and Raabta: STP has 25 Schools, the goal is to grow and support education.
He was recently invited to the India Synergy Summit in the Holy city of Najaf by ‘The Mainstay Foundation’ a leading UK-based charity that recognized his work, he refused global opportunity and now he is getting recognized internationally as well.
He strongly feels, ”That every young individual should always strive for their purpose in life. We are not born by accident. There is a reason why we are on this planet. Search for your role in making this world a better place and contribute to the process of evolution.”
He says he has worked with many youngsters and misses seeing integrity and seriousness in most. Not everyone is clear about themselves regarding their purpose and if they listen to what their heart and mind say, success will follow.
Shoeb’s personal advice to today’s youth is, -“ start thinking about how they can create an impact and doors will open. Be entrepreneurial and start a project. Because India is a country of 140 crore people. Government cannot solve all their problems. So, we need to come up with solutions, and make India a world leader.”
“Show me the heroes that the youth of your country look up to, and I will tell you the future of your country.” – A quote that stands tall for someone like Shoeb and how he is striving to bring in change. A true change maker in the making.
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