The biggest challenge which colleges and schools face today is to engage students. Kriti and Smriti Singhal are contributing their bit to mitigate this problem of holistic education. Their organization is conducting free online webinars for students, covering issues that need to be talked about and starting conversations in colleges across the country. Kriti and Smriti Singhal tells us more about it.
How does your organization help the youngsters acquiring a holistic education?
Kriti Singhal: We are India’s Biggest Youth Community. Our organization (The Education Tree) is a platform where youngsters can follow their passion and hone their skills. We provide students with the much-needed exposure they are looking for when they enter college. We started this organisation back when we ourselves were students. We noticed that there is a herd-mentality building in colleges, students relied heavily on rote learning and there was zero to nothing focus on overall personality development.
Those with resources could avail opportunities outside of colleges in the form of private coaching and trainings to work on their ‘non-academic’ skills but the majority of the students were not ready for the real world! So, we decided to bring the model of holistic education to colleges instead. Today, 8 years down the lane, we have reached out to over 4 million students and have provided them with a platform to experiment with their skills and passion.
How has your organisation changed during this pandemic?
Smriti Singhal: I think the biggest challenge we faced was to engage students online since most of our events and campaigns were basically on-ground activities. However, slowly we have made a successful channel through which we are able to conduct free online webinars for students, covering issues that need to be talked about and starting conversations in colleges across the country.
Moreover, we are offering ‘work-from-home’ internships to students and are receiving thousands of applications from all across the nation. We are also soon coming out with a comprehensive program for students to build their profiles and work on their personalities. This program, however, comes with a nominal fee.
What special activities are you using to impart education?
Kriti Singhal: The answer to this would hugely depend on what education means to you! We have been working on promoting art and crafts, encouraging performing arts, promoting a gender-neutral environment for everyone. We have worked with other organisations to promote easy access to quality education which rips through the socio-economic barriers. All of this, among many other activities, are being organised to raise a sensitive, responsive and a responsible generation of young leaders who are well-aware of themselves and the issues that pose a threat to the society.
We use creative measure likes flash mobs, freeze mobs, open mics, etc., to engage people and start conversations around issues that have been ignored for centuries. A definite mention here would be our Intellectual Property, Youth Leadership Summit, a 3-day residential conference wherein 250+ like-minded students come together and live through extensive training sessions that work on issues as simple as self-love and leadership to issues like gender-sensitization.
Please tell us about your digital initiatives in this lockdown period.
Smriti Singhal: We have launched a digital campaign, Unmute, wherein we are hosting live sessions and video podcasts with big names from various fields and having them unmute on issues that need our attention like mental health, legal rights, career shaping, pride movement and many more. The youth is loving this initiative and that’s a mark of definite success for us. Another initiative that we are coming out with, as I mentioned above, is our 1-month training program, Start Young, which will be focussing on making students ‘career-ready’ and shaping their personalities.
How are you helping the NGOs?
Kriti Singhal: For the past 8 years, we have been collaborating with NGOs like Salaam Balak Trust, Rainbow Home Foundations, Pratham, Navjoti, etc. Our community members volunteer to work with the NGOs and play their parts in making the world a better place to live in.
What are your future plans?
Kriti Singhal: I think, to put it across in just a few words, our plan is to continue striving and empowering students to shape the young leaders of tomorrow. The youth is ever-changing! Our ideology is to never give up and continue engaging the young to spark conversations that matter.