‘History is theirs whose language is the sun!’ said Stephen Spender in his evocative poem about an elementary school classroom in a slum, while urging the teachers and the system to be aware and alter the glaring gaps and marginalization of our societies.
The more I read about Atishi, the more I am convinced that she has embodied the spirit of this poem, which is freeing the lesser fortunate from their catacombs and giving them a level playing field.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, or aren’t a resident of NCT, you would’ve definitely heard of #Atishi, a role model, and been completely bowled over by her conviction and capabilities.
Atishi emphasizes on dignity or self-worth that is the right of every child. The sheer apathy and disdain of the system sit heavily on the backs of progeny of the poorest, who grow up believing that they are children of lesser gods. Their drooping body language reflects their lack of self-belief.
It is tending to this dignity that has led to a systemic change in the way education is curated, assimilated, and imparted in Delhi’s Government schools.
Atishi, often called ‘the architect of educational reforms in Delhi Government Schools’ was born on 8 June 1981, to Vijay Singh and Tripta Wahi, two Delhi University professors. After majoring in history at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi in 2001, Atishi joined Oxford University, completing her master’s degree in History on a Chevening scholarship in 2003. Atishi, a Rhodes scholar, after graduating from Magdalen College, Oxford in 2005, came back to India to share her knowledge with the motherland.
Apart from teaching at Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh, Atishi spent seven years in a village in Madhya Pradesh, in organic farming and formulating progressive educational policies. As she worked with various NGOs, she got involved with the AAP movement. She has been a key member of AAP’s think tank, policy drafting, and as Mr. Manish Sisodia’s advisor, worked on the twin verticals of health and education. She currently represents Kalkaji in the Delhi Assembly.
In schools, what has worked is Atishi’s three pronged approach!
She insisted on cleanliness, inculcating a sense of belonging, and ownership amongst the students. The reimagining and overhauling of curriculum through introduction of ‘happiness hour’, mindfulness, and entrepreneurship has transformed the diffident children into confident and cheerful beings who believe they matter.
Involving parents in decision making via democratically elected School Management Committees has made the indifferent administration more accountable.
In addition to infrastructural reforms, champion and committed teachers are identified, celebrated, awarded yearly and sent for further training across the world.
The amazing numbers speak for themselves. In about 4 years, apart from a holistic re-hauling of the system, 21 new school buildings with modern facilities were constructed and 8,000 equivalent new classrooms were added.
Many children who have benefited from this revamping will grow up to be fruitful citizens and gainful additions to the country. As they say, educating a child is to turn those closing walls into open doors because an empowered child will change the world.
Atishi has worked closely with Mohalla clinics of Delhi, as her second area of focus is health of a girl child.
With her conviction, belief-system and implementation skills, Atishi continues to be a ray of sunshine in Indian politics.
AAP’s official page describes Atishi thus – ‘Her passion for mass politics and expertise in policy makes for a potent combination and a breath of fresh air in Indian politics.’
“Politics is the only means to achieve large scale and long term change,” says Atishi. We at Incredible Women of India, couldn’t agree more.
I came on board at IWI in September 2020, since then have worked hard at bringing out stories that mattered, narratives that needed to be heard by you, me and us.
I’ve always wanted to chat with this Incredible Woman of India. I had a sliver of a chance and pursued it eagerly.
Thanks to my lucky stars @AtishiAAP said yes to be our guest of honour on our next IWI Talk.
We at IWI are celebrating ‘Women in Public Service’ the whole of December. It is our proud privilege to host Atishi, an activist, politician, educator, and MLA from Delhi, on our IWI Talk slated for 11th December at 6 pm.
Do join us to celebrate this incredible woman from India! See You!