Manthan Fellowship (2019-21)

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Manthan Fellowship was a two-year immersive and intensive journey for young adults to explore their own aptitudes and skills, understand society, and contribute to the social sector, specifically in the area of rural education. The fellowship was created to address the critical lack of rural youth who were skilled, informed, and motivated to be agents of social change, especially in and around Majuli in Ayang’s context. Existing social sector fellowships often had a very high bar of skills required, and consequently catered to candidates from premier/urban institutions who had had social and economic privileges historically.

Ayang Trust facilitated this fellowship to enable local youth to be changemakers in the area of education at the grassroots level. Each fellow worked closely with one government lower primary school in Majuli Island. The Manthan fellows engaged in theoretical and practical understanding of education, social issues, public policy, project management, resource mobilization, and community engagement throughout the process of the fellowship. 

Major activities of the fellowship

  • Fellow Induction Week – The fellows participated in a one-week training on the basics of education philosophy, sociological and human development aspects of education, team and culture building activities, and life mapping.
  • Weekly Learning Circles- During weekly learning circles, the fellows engaged in sessions on budgeting, reflection, MS Office, researching on the internet, foundations of education topics in-depth, gender and class issues, school ecosystem, deconstructing the idea of society, culture and politics, social justice, environmental stewardship, the Constitution of India, and communicative English.
  • Solo Trip – The fellows took a solo trip to a location outside Assam to gain confidence and experience in budgeting and scheduling.
  • Designing and Implementing a School Project- The fellows completed a needs assessment, raised community funds, and conducted weekly library sessions in schools. They also set up basic library spaces in two of the schools.
  • Baseline Assessment- The fellows conducted a baseline assessment for English, Maths, and Assamese. After the assessment, they chose the subject that needed critical attention in their own school and began teaching for accelerated foundational skills improvement.

The fellows showed significant progress in their ability to reflect, build relationships, plan events, and teach. They became more reflective, embracing their schools as their own and taking initiative to improve them. They also became more independent planners, able to plan events from start to finish, including logistics. In the second term, each fellow was tasked with setting up and activating their school library, and they were successful in mobilizing community and other stakeholders’ support. The fellows also showed improvement in their teaching skills, incorporating novel methods of teaching topics that engage children, and using TLMs effectively. They also showed consistent improvement in classroom management and maintaining energy throughout the school day. These shifts are indicative of their potential to make a positive impact on the schools and communities they serve.

Positive Outcomes visible across the four intervention schools:

The following positive outcomes were visible across the intervention schools:

  • Teachers were more willing to try new teaching methods, especially in Math and language teaching.
  • All schools had structured morning assemblies with a different theme each day.
  • The use of corporal punishment had decreased significantly, and teachers were now using more positive methods of discipline.
  • Teachers and fellows had rearranged classrooms to be more child-friendly and foster dialogue and collaboration.
  • Two schools now had active libraries with weekly library periods.
  • Two schools had held Parent Teacher Meetings regularly once a month with prior planning.