Published: 03rd September 2018
Why an IIM grad quit a job with IBM to teach English to village kids in rural Maharashtra
Shuvajit Payne left a well-paying job in London to make a difference in the lives of many underprivileged kids of Waifad in rural Maharashtra and many more in Rajasthan now
Making a big shift in your career is never easy, especially when you are leaving a high paying job in order to change peoples lives. For this IIM grad, quitting his job at IBM in London wasn't something that came easy either. After working with the MNC for over four years, Shuvajit Payne, an alumnus of Presidency College and IIM Lucknow, who had worked as a programme director at Reliance Foundation and as a senior solutions consultant of IBM, finally found his calling in teaching. But what made him take such a huge step?
"Initially, I enjoyed working at IBM but over a period of time, I wanted to start teaching. I often asked myself 'Why am I doing this?' as I wanted to make a difference in peoples lives. The purpose for which I was working there was clear as I realised that I was just making an MNC richer, and nothing more than that. I don't believe that IT jobs are meaningless but it's something that is not purposeful for me," he says.
Shuvajit knew he had to work in rural India to try and help thousands of people who are deprived of proper training and resources. Fortunately, he came across State Bank of India’s Youth for India programme and thought it was an ideal platform to start with. "I was looking for volunteering opportunities and I came across SBI's fellowship, which gives an opportunity to youngsters to work on rural development projects and partner with NGOs to help build solutions. I was selected for the fellowship and landed in a village called Waifad in Maharashtra. The region is strongly affected by poverty and farmers suicide was very common out there. I was associated with Education and Communication activities of the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation," says the 36-year-old.
Train well: Shuvajit trained about 300 students in Waifad and around 50 of them emerged successful
What he saw moved him plenty. "I realised that the school teachers themselves didn’t know proper English and those classes weren’t helping the students at all. So I took up the initiative and started teaching them spoken English. I started working with a bunch of young children in rural spaces. As I conversed with the children, I realised that they wanted to build their confidence in spoken English and understand careers. I spent a year working with almost 40 children. I took classes after they finished school/college," he adds.
Shuvajit used several creative techniques and more than 50 of them emerged successful. Along with English, he trained children in computer skills, helped develop their confidence and counselled them from time to time. In fact, 15 students went on to make it big and were able to speak fluent English. He also worked with NGOs for setting up vocational training centres for villagers, where they are trained in different activities.
For the greater good: Currently, Shuvajit is working with Barefoot College, which works for several rural communities in Tilonia, Rajasthan
Currently, he heads the Department of Education at Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan where he is working towards managing the learning of more than 2000 underprivileged kids in the area. "As the fellowship came to an end, I started looking at ways I can transition responsibilities and there came my first learning in the NGO space which is the question of sustainability. I wanted to impact more people in the education space. I joined Barefoot College, which works for several rural communities. We conduct night schools for children in areas where there aren't any government schools. We even have digital classrooms for them. Our aim is to create classrooms anywhere in the world," he concludes.