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Education | Volunteering | Health

Shaheen Mistri

PTW MAGAZINE

FOUNDER AND CEO OF TEACH TO LEAD (TEACH FOR INDIA IS ITS FLAGSHIP PROGRAM).

P o s i t i v e l y T r a n s f o r m i n g w o r l d 11/20 3


CONTENTS

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Psychology Tell

me

more

Life with Pets

COVID & My Education

Editorial

by the Volunteers

Tipping Point

Shaheen Mistri

Of the Volunteers

Munjed Al Muderis

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l

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s t e p h t i w life T H E

S E C R E T

H E A L T H

Keeping pets has been a very popular hobby for centuries. Cats, dogs, fish and birds are listed as the most popular pets globally. Some people may choose other types of animals as pets as long as permitted and legal. Wildlife foster caring also offers people to get to know some exotic animals. In any case, all pets require constant care and a level of responsibility to keep them content and physically fit. Looking after pets is not only known as a hobby. On the other hands, a haul of benefits goes to the owner. Scientifically studies have proven that keeping pets gives positive impacts on physical and mental health. Apart from companionship, owning a pet has therapeutic effects to overcome depression and other health problems. Those suffering from high blood pressure due to a hectic lifestyle may be eased by interacting with pets. An animal’s behaviour, energy and interaction may bring more meaning to life. The oxytocin level in the brain will increase to reduce fear and anxiety. The cortisol, a hormone that causes stress will be reduced. It plays a vital role in helping people to recover from certain illnesses. It is gratifying to see the patients achieving their goals and objectives during the recovery process. Pets therapy was also implemented among soldiers particularly those suffering post traumatic stress disorder. This highlights that interrelating to pets is beneficial to mental health. Soldiers who were suffering from battle injuries may benefit from healing tendons, muscles, infections and swelling. Recent findings have shown that dolphin therapy is very effective in helping people with autism to improve their level of language ability, attention, motivation and behavior. Autistic children who spent a session swimming with dolphins have shown positive signs of improvement. Being alone could be exacting and dejected. On count of that having winsome pets could prevent loneliness. Elderly individuals seek to keep pets including birds, fish, cats and dogs. Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) and animal assisted-activities (AAA) can enhance an individual’s health. It helps to promote good mental health and increase the quality of life in owners. It increases

B E N E F I TS

O F

the recreational opportunities and stimulates exercise by walking the dog at the park, building up cardio muscles and strengthening bones. It helps people to socialize more by getting out of the house frequently, meeting new people and fostering a long term relationship.

Along with that, keeping pets teaches children about responsibility. They become responsible by concerning the living creatures, welfares and empathy towards them. For the most part, it stimulates their brain just by changing water and putting up foods in a bowl. Parents should take their kids along to the vets as it will enhance their understanding about the pet’s health and the way to deal with it in the future. The dynamic bond between pets and kids will be formed. Both sides will be enjoyed and inspired. Since the pandemic issues have globally spreaded out, pet issues have become more attentive. Many people choose to keep pets as a new hobby. During this unprecedented time, social media has played an important role to ensure our beloved companions are not left behind. Animals foundation website, group and blogs are developed for pets adoption as well as fundraising. Undeniably social media has played an important role in making people aware and more. Despites some annual events having to be postponed or canceled, particular organisations are still working hard to raise funds and run campaigns against animal protection. One of the research organisations in Washington, HABRI ( Human Animal Bond Research Institute ) has carried out lots of research on mental health and wellness based on human-animal interaction. The partnership with other related organisations enabled this institute to raise fun to support the upcoming projects. As responsible individuals, let us support this noble endeavour so that future generations will have the opportunity to get to know the animal species. In short love pets significantly and unconditionally for the sake of their capability to provide an incredible and unreal journey together! ▪ Noor Azamima Mohd Amin

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Hi ptw! I want to know more information about psychology Sonia, PTW Grassroots Development Student

ut simply, psychology is the study of brain and behaviour. The word itself comes from the Ancient Greek words ‘psyche’, to mean mind, soul, or spirit, and ‘logos’ which refers to studying. It seeks to understand and explain how people think and feel and act in a changing world filled with other people and things. Historically, psychology has its origins in Ancient Greek philosophy, and was viewed as an artform rather than a science, as it involved making conclusions based on introspection, a kind of meditation. It has always been a goal of humanity to understand how we experience the world and turn these experiences into memories, emotions and actions. However, over the last one hundred and fifty years, psychology has been acknowledged as a growing part of the biological sciences, which study all living things. This means that much of what psychology is about is becoming testable and experiments can be done which can use numbers and figures, rather than written explanations, to demonstrate what is happening in the brain. Much of what most people think of as ‘psychology’ today probably relates most to one area in particular, social psychology. The appeal of social psychology is that it attempts to predict and uncover rules about how people behave around others, or when they believe another person is watching them, which can be very useful to lots of different organisations. Imagine a soft drink company knowing where to place their advertisements to maximise sales, or a government understanding who is likely to rebel against them. However, psychology is an extremely broad discipline and includes lots of other subjects, all with the common theme of studying the brain or behaviour:

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•Cognitive psychology: understanding mental processes, memory, attention, language, and problem solving •Developmental psychology: how our brains develop throughout our lives, mainly focused on our early years •Clinical psychology: what happens when the brain goes wrong, looking mainly at mental illnesses and the therapies which can help. This might also include forensic psychology, which tries to understand criminal behaviour, particularly when there is a suspicion of underlying mental health problems •Health psychology: understanding how behaviour impacts health, and the ways in which this can be used to aid changes in individual and population health behaviours •Neuroscience: a relatively new area, focusing on the biology behind psychology and using brain imaging techniques to find physical locations within the brain for psychological processes. The way we learn new things in the field of psychology is through experimentation. Over the years, psychologists have found some ingenious ways to try and study the mind, including some that would not be well received today. For example, in 1897, Dr Ivan Pavlov wanted to know if the brain could be trained to make almost automatic associations between two events. He wanted to teach hungry dogs to produce saliva to the sound of a bell, rather than the sight of food. To do this, he performed surgery on each of the dogs to redirect their feeding pipe outside of the body so that he could measure their saliva production and paired feeding time with the sound of a ringing bell. He eventually removed the food delivery and found that the dogs produced saliva to the sound of the bell alone, meaning that they could learn to produce a particular response to a new trigger. Similarly, Dr Stanley Milgram performed a series of wellknown experiments in the 1960s to see if normal people could be encouraged to harm another human if pushed


to do so by an authority figure. He found that almost twothirds of people would electrocute a complete stranger as punishment if told to by a person in a white coat. This experiment had far-reaching implications for criminal trials following the Second World War, when people said they had “just followed orders”. More recently, the rise of medical technology has allowed scientists to look inside the brain during their experiments. One interesting study by Dr Chun-Siong Soon used a special form of imaging to show that we might not have as much free will as we think! Brain scans showed that there was activity within the brain up to ten seconds before participants moved either their left or right hand, and even before participants became aware of their intention to move. It seems that psychology will keep evolving with the support of new technologies and great minds. Current research focuses on understanding why we sleep, why some people develop dementia or mental illness, and trying to find treatments for conditions which affect the brain. Despite these new areas of research, we still know very little about our brains and it is likely studies will continue to attempt to tease apart brain and mind, and how we can better predict and programme behaviours. For more information, the British Psychological Society have an A-Z of Psychology from which they highlight a term of the day at www.bps.org.uk/public/a-z-of-psychology and the website www.simplypsychology.org details a wide selection of studies, theories, and psychologists. ▪ Dr Sarah Louise Galea, Senior Medical Doctor, United Kingdom

“ALMOST TWO-THIRDS OF PEOPLE WOULD ELECTROCUTE A COMPLETE STRANGER AS PUNISHMENT IF TOLD TO BY A PERSON IN A WHITE COAT”

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tipping point

Welcome to the

2020. If there was one year that will mark our generation, most will put their money on this one. The beginning of 2020 brought bushfires that impacted PTW volunteers from the Queensland region of Australia, and major complications for our volunteer involved in Hong Kong. In any other year, both events would have been considered the biggest global events of the year. Sadly, it did not take long for both to be overshadowed by a landmark event for the history books.

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I can’t help but think back to my PTW interview with the Kofi Annan Foundation and what was referred to as ‘the tipping point’. The concept was metaphoric for the major shift in our global direction: will the world fall under pressure towards a more peaceful and prosperous future, or under pressure, will we fall towards regression and the undoing of everything that the world has been moving towards for millennia. ‘2020’ was discussed as a ball-park figure of when we would reach this ominous ‘tipping point’ and start to really feel the pressure, but no one could have foreseen how literal that has become. 2020 is not only asking, but testing: ‘How dedicated is humanity towards global development?


The value we place on health and human life itself has been front-and-centre of 2020. COVID-19 has forced the realisation that an individual’s health choices will have direct impact on the rest of the human population. The question: how far are we as individuals willing to change our behaviours, and possibly compensate our own wellbeing and liberties to support and protect others? We’ve also been asked: how much as individuals are we willing to invest our own time, money and effort into improving our health and wellbeing independently, for example in the form of cooking healthy meals at home; self-motivation to exercise alone; and stronger awareness for work-life balance when both occur in the same building.

Globally the effects of strict lockdowns to contain the virus have correlated with mental health issues skyrocketing. Even for those who are not suffering clinically from mental health issues have felt the stress and anxiety that COVID-19 has brought. The challenges of lockdowns have seen close to 100 thousand demonstrators globally in 2020 unwilling to accept lockdown, heightening tensions in peace and justice. Distrust and disenfranchisement with the handling of COVID-19 by world leaders, coupled with parallel rising tensions in social issues, are asking whether physical distancing is the only type of distancing growing in society.

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The impact of COVID-19 may have given major blows to some areas, but it has provided a needed short-term win to the environment. In just a few months, pollution levels globally have now dropped to their lowest in a decade. Prior to COVID-19, estimates predicted air pollution would rise by 1% in 2020 from 2019. Not only did they stop rising, but now estimated to drop by 6% in 2020- previously thought to only be possible after a decade or more of aggressive interventions to curb the climate crisis our globe faces. The concern however is that these ‘wins’ for the environment might be short term. Investments in clean energy technologies dropped this year, and concerns that once COVID-19 is contained, economies around the world will just try to return to previous ways of living, and undo this needed boost to the environment. Wildlife had a major boost in some parts of the world too. The National Geographic reports that Rhino poaching in South Africa fell by 53% in the first half of the year as restrictions to movement and disruption to international flights hindered poaching syndicates. Yet, there are still risks to the wildlife from COVID-19. In some regions of Africa and Colombia, poaching and hunting of animals is on the rise, owing to quiet nature reserves that leave illegal activities unchecked. Reports from international zoos are also stating that the absence of human visitors is also having emotional impacts on animals that are used to having human engagement around them. It’s hard to talk about the impacts of COVID-19 without talking about the economy. In 2019, global unemployment was measured to be approximately 187 million people. Estimates now forecast that number to go up to almost 200 million people by 2023 if a significant shift does not occur. When we consider the impact of 2020 on the world economy, you cannot discuss it without factoring where a community or individual lives on the poverty scale. 2020 has unfortunately provided us with one of the most powerful case studies of all time; highlighting how an event like a pan-

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demic, and the necessary requirements of a lockdown can widen the gap between the rich and poor. If 2020 was to be described in 1 word: extreme. Every aspect of our ways of living, ecosystems, and social norms have been put to extreme tests. It is the culmination of these extreme tests that creates the environment for forcing ‘The Tipping Point’ to take direction. Whilst movies like the next James Bond film have been forced to delay their critical review, this year the


world has been both shaken and stirred, and will come out of 2020 as a completely different drink, for good or bad. It is easy to assume the tipping point will lead to a negative outcome, but we should not forget that it is possible to tip towards a positive future, and the success stories of 2020 have shown hope. When COVID-19 gave us no choices, we realised that the economies did not have to completely shut down. In fact, may workplaces in wealthier nations were able to continue working with the same efficiencies and effectiveness as pre-COVID. For years, the concept of working from home and working remotely was frowned upon for the perception that people would not be as productive. Quashing the sceptics argument, it is now likely that working from home will become a part of mainstream work culture, with organizations such as Microsoft already making permanent changes to their work policies, and having many of their workers now working from home regardless of COVID-19. The practise of sending individuals on a first-class flights from one part of the world to another, just to attend a meeting, can now be seriously questioned for its value when video conferencing has brought efficiencies and practicalities that not only save money, but also the environment. This has all been possible through the power of technology. Prior to COVID-19, families and individuals living in remote locations would struggle significantly to attend medical appointments that are 50 or even 100km away from their location. The time and money spent traveling for these needed medical services is a major burden on remote communities. With COVID-19, a necessity for medical providers to embrace technological solutions like Telehealth means that the person living 100km away from the medical clinic can stay connected to their medical provider as much as someone 10km away from the medical provider.

no clear plans of when formal education will re-commence. Mexico is a country that has embraced this transition and making major leaps and bounds. The national education department under Minister Esteban Moctezuma has made agreements with major broadcasting networks in the country to televise school and home-learning programs. The once coined ‘idiot box’ is now evolving into the ‘teaching box’. Approximately 94% of Mexican households have a television according to the Mexican education minister. For the remaining 6%, they can tune into the classes via radio. Without question, this is a huge move forward from the option of ‘no school at all’. The innovation will not only allow children to continue being supported, but perhaps pave the way to other cultural shifts of how we use technology and address the type of content being delivered. It has brought new possibilities for reaching the more than 250 million children globally who were already not attending school prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is perhaps the key difference between Mexico and India- providing and using resources with a clear plan. In India, the closure has left educational institutions to make unofficial inroads towards preparing and progressing their students. Some public schools do not have the technology or infrastructure to provide any learning opportunities during the pandemic at all, whilst private schools have continued their classes seamlessly as though lockdowns did not exist. Children from low income backgrounds and living in poverty typically do not have computers, laptops, or smart phone devices that their affluent neighbours do attending private schools. For children in year 12 in India, such as the children we support at PTW, COVID-19 will shows its effects on the inequality gap where a large population have had no resources to continue learning, whist their classmates from higher income settings are moving ahead rapidly, putting the fairness of upcoming national exams into question when they are all pitted against one another for university seats. All this coming back to one major issue: inequality. Even in Mexico, whilst 94% of the child population may have access to audio-visual learning, at least 6% will be disadvantaged in only receiving audio, if at all, and the quality of the environment for learning will significantly vary across households.

This transition to home has been a major contention when it comes to education systems. In fact, more than half the world’s primary and secondary schools have required closure for several months this year. In April, 162 country-wide closures of school occurred, affecting 68.4% of the world’s enrolled school children. Now in October, the number of country-wide closures has come down to 35, however the percentage of students globally impacted is still 33.1% owing to countries like India which have had a nation-wide closure on formal teaching since April and still ongoing through October, with

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When we think about the ‘tipping point’ and which way it might sway, digital technology has a huge influence on the outcome, but it is fundamentally important to remember though that not everyone has access to digital technology, which itself has a huge influence on the outcome. Economies and workplaces which do not have access to digital technology and internet will fall behind as the already wealthier economies propel forward. Children from low income families who cannot afford devices or internet will fall behind as their wealthier counterparts propel forward. Families who can access and afford digital technology will be able to access medical support and guidance to live better lives, whilst those without remain in the dark. Technology has played ‘The Hand of God’ in many ways this year, whilst also fallen prey to being the ‘Devil’s Advocate’ too. False messaging and conspiracies of COVID-19 were spread, and with more people turning to digital platforms, have a greater influence on society. Spreading of false information through social media and other unverified sites lead people to abandon necessary public health measures. With the next US elections looming, it is a stark reminder of what can happen when false information is propagated through digital technology. As more people are forced into the online world, known mental health issues associated with the use of online tools will likely increase, and cyber bullying and online threats will increase if unchecked. The digital world needs to be put in check and be developed to the same quality and reliability that we expect of our physical world. Perhaps the biggest contender in the tipping point has been the one thing that has slowly become a normal part of our lives, sits in people’s pockets, living rooms, on our desks, in doctor’s offices, in the classrooms, used by CEOs of conglomerates; yet is not directly addressed as a distinct area of global development: digital technology. There are great risks associated with digital technology but navigating and preparing for these will allow us to capitalise the greater benefits it provides. It is digital technology that has enabled many global economies to transition towards working from home seamlessly and grow employment opportunities, it is digital technology that has allowed children to keep learning without a school, and it is digital technology that has allowed millions of patients around the world to access medical support without needing to leave their homes. Digital technologies are also having a huge impact on informing and addressing climate change and wildlife conservations by providing a platform for teaching in masses and teaching with new engaging techniques. Digital technology has always had a seat at the table of development solutions, but now also one of the biggest game-changers to address: inequalities in digital technology. For this reason, digital technology cannot simply be a type of resource we provide in our PTW Grassroots Development projects, but the main resource which we need to be providing to ensure that disadvantaged children do not get left behind. With great power comes great responsibility, and equally at PTW our volunteer teams are working to ensure that digital literacy becomes a focal point of all our education programs, to ensure that we can work with the beast that digital technologies are, harness it for good, manage the risks, and finally tip the swaying needle of global development over, and point it towards a positively transforming world. ▪ Chirag Lodhia Chief Editor

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NOV 2020

Shaheen Mistri POSITIVELY TRANSFORMING WORLD

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Shaheen is the founder and CEO of Teach To Lead (Teach For India is its flagship program). Prior to this role, she founded and led the Akanksha Foundation for 17 years, where she worked to provide a quality education to children from low-income communities. In 2008, Shaheen founded Teach For India, with the vision of providing an excellent education to all children across India by building a pipeline of leaders committed to ending educational inequity in the country. Shaheen is an Ashoka Fellow, a Global Leader for Tomorrow at the World Economic Forum, and an Asia Society 21 Leader. She is the author of Redrawing India. Shaheen serves on the boards of Simple Education Foundation (SEF), The Akanksha Foundation, Teach To Lead, Indian School Leadership Institute, Design for Change and Symbiosis School Central Directorate. Given that PTW supports and works with the children being taught by teachers coming out of the Teach For India program, our Director, Chirag Lodhia met with Shaheen to ask her some questions about the mutual

How did your passion for education develop at a young age, and when living across 13 different countries before the age of 18, what perspective did you develop on different global education systems? No matter where we were living in the world, my family would visit Mumbai every summer. It was important to my parents that we remember our roots, so, I spent every summer volunteering at a school for children with special needs, an orphanage or any place that needed some extra help. It was during those trips that the seed for what I wanted to change was planted. The inequality around me was glaring. Walking through socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in Mumbai made me realize the incredible change that was possible if all children were given the opportunity to unleash their potential. As an entrepreneur and innovator, why and how did you initiate the Akanksha Foundation, and what difficulties did you face trying to start something from scratch/the drawing-board? My belief that formed very early on was that access to quality education could provide students from low-income communities the opportunity to create a better life for themselves. This was my reason for starting Akanksha Foundation. The first Akanksha centre had just fifteen children from the neighbouring slums attending classes. I taught the first class myself - during the journey with Akanksha, I felt every possible emotion ranging from helpless to exhilarated, but the vision of all children attaining an excellent education propels me through the challenges and moments of struggle. Today, Aakanksha aims to scale up its schools and become the largest, most effective network of government schools that have outstanding, holistic outcomes.

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Despite India’s government providing free and compulsory education to children aged 6-14 years of age, why aren’t all children in India attending school and receiving education? I see great advancements in the state of Indian education but there is still room for improvement. The combination of the RTE and a growing movement of leaders who are committed to education equity is really starting to change the conversation. While we have provided access to a high and growing percentage of our kids, the quality of learning across schools - especially how relevant it is given the diversity of India, is really poor in many schools. Simply put, many schools in India aren’t worth attending. What motivated you to develop Teach For India and what aims does the ‘Teach For India’ and also the ‘Teach For All’ program aim to achieve for education in India? I started Teach For India in 2007 after realizing that we needed change on a much larger scale to address educational inequity in India. The idea solidified into a plan in 2006 when I met Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder of Teach For America, to discuss how Teach For America’s model could be adapted to address the challenges we were facing in India . The Teach For India program integrates into existing government schools; what is the benefit of integrating with government schools rather than developing privatised school centres? The government has actually done a good job in providing access to education to children. I think where we are way behind is on what actually happens in the schools –or the quality of education. Teach For India is working in the existing education system to create change. It aims to build capabilities in young leaders to lead classrooms, to identify solutions to problems that exist in their students’ communities and gain the skills and mindsets they require to continue working in the education sector. The education crisis also needs stakeholders involved on different levels and at different capacities to truly create a movement that eliminates educational inequity. Through our Fellowship, we are bridging this gap by building leaders who can advocate for education equity. Our Fellows are present in both government schools, as well as low-income private schools.

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Over your career, what have been some of the biggest challenges to seeing quality education provided to children of India? Children have complex needs and their learning is impeded by a range of factors that come out of poverty and lack of opportunity. I have witnessed some of them go through things that no child should have to go through – academic gaps that were glaringly big, kids who had no belief in themselves, kids who were mistreated and were witness to appalling tragedy. We need to find ways to bridge this gap to give children a quality education. Another challenge is changing people’s perception of education being about marks and competition. We need to re-define what is important so that we are able to make education holistic. What modern challenges have emerged over the past 5-10 years in providing quality education to children of India, that in the start of your career, were not as significant? Teach For India has grown a lot in 10 years, we’ve expanded to 7 cities and are impacting almost 38000 children today. With Teach For America, the corps are compensated by the schools they teach in but our Fellows are paid by Teach For India itself. So, as we’ve scaled being able to raise the funding required has been challenging. Our second challenge is creating a balance between scaling our


movement for educational equity, while ensuring the highest levels of quality and impact for our children. Providing access to education for young girls in India is still a significant issue; Why is this, and how does organizations like Teach For India and Akanksha Foundation address this challenge, and what solutions are you finding effective? Gender inequality is still an issue in India, and although the rates of literacy for women has seen a substantial increase in the past few years, it still needs considerable work. Both organizations promote the required mindsets within school leaders and Fellows, which helps them impart certain values in students. As a result, students start viewing classrooms as a space where everybody is on equal footing, regardless of factors like gender, religion, class, etc. Recently, Teach For India hosted the Kids Education Revolution (KER) summit, which called upon students and educators from around the country and internationally (from our Teach For All network) to converge in Mumbai and discuss the potential for partnership in transforming classrooms. Many students at the summit presented projects they worked on, which were highly inspired by gender equality. One of our students from Mumbai, Almas Mukri, initiated a project called “Basket of joy� that aimed to create opportunities of livelihood for women from disadvantaged communities, including sex workers in Mumbai. Almas was

part of an entrepreneurship program called the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) and even won a social impact business plan start-up competition this year. We are also pleased that our InnovatED program, which supports early-stage startup entrepreneurs in the education sector is seeing significant involvement from female entrepreneurs. I hope with increased female involvement at all levels of the education system, we continue to witness a rise in female students as well.

Aside of transforming the lives of children through education, you have much experience transforming the education landscape itself. Over the past 20 years, how have you seen global education systems and frameworks changed, and what were the driving forces for these changes? We have seen proof-points, kids and teachers who are defying the odds and proving to us that with passion and leadership it is possible to give all children the opportunity to change their lives regardless of their background. Although a movement this vast takes time to gain momentum, communities have been receptive to the hard work our Fellows have been putting in. In ten years of Teach For India as well, we have been able to impact many more schools, reaching more communities and directly benefiting more than 38000 kids. This just means we have to work harder at accomplishing our mission to reach every child. There appears to be more awareness of the education crisis, and in India itself, a lot has started transforming.

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Looking to the future, what are key goals and objectives you hope to achieve within the education system of India? I believe that the biggest thing we need to do is infuse high quality talent into the system. We do have new technology and developments, but it is people who make the change. We need to inspire more people to come and work for our children, and then use the other things to reform curriculum. Through Teach For India’s Fellowship program, we are hoping to continue developing an army of committed young people to spread education to a million children in the country by 2021. The dream is that we each play our part in relieving the crisis. We want our Fellows to emerge as confident leaders who inform policy, advocate for change and really impact children’s lives on the ground. Our children need access to a quality education that challenges them and equip them with 21st century skills to truly embrace their potential. We want teachers and students engaged in dialogue about what a reimagined education could like like. Listening to some of our Fellows’ stories of classroom change, I truly believe this is something we are gradually working towards.

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What innovative approaches to education do you hope to see implemented, not just in India, but in all global education systems to improve the quality of education received by the next generation? We need to make kids our partners in learning. This means altering our approach to education and shifting power away from just adults to working as equals with our children for their future. How important is it for organizations to collaborate and work together to provide quality education to children globally? How valuable/essential is it for organizations like Teach For India and Teach For All to partner with other organizations in the aims at delivering quality education? The education crisis runs deep and wide in India, and the need of the hour is for several organizations and partners to champion similar efforts in the space if we really want to invoke change. Our vision is to reach every child in India one day, and that would not be possible without support from our ecosystem, and the belief that stakeholders at several levels can influence the delivery of quality education.


The InnovatED summit in India will provide new and novel ideas to the education space. How essential are these novel ideas to the education space in India, and globally? InnovatED is Teach For India’s national incubator for entrepreneurs from Teach For India - who are looking to build impactful organizations in the education space. These entrepreneurs who are alumni who completed the Fellowship, leverage the skills, knowledge and insight they gained from their two-year stint in low-income schools and are determined to continue creating change with their enterprising solutions. InnovatED’s long-term vision is creating an interconnected community of educational entrepreneurs across India- and weave a new narrative for education in the country. Their work ranges to tackle different pieces of the pizzle- such as technology in classrooms, art in education, inclusive education and so much more. By supporting and nurturing these entrepreneurs, InnovatED is a program that enables them to scale up their innovations into sustainable organizations in the long-term. By investing in the potential these edupreneurs bring to the fore, we foresee tremendous progress in the landscape- since there are so many more children out there being reached as an outcome of their effort.

Already incredibly accomplished, what are your own personal career, education and health goals/objectives for 2019 and beyond? I am always thinking about how to improve the quality of our work at Teach For India, how to expand our scope, how to form stronger and more strategic partnerships and alliances that would take our work even further. Our vision, that one day all children will attain an excellent education, is always on my mind. What is a positively transforming the world to you? A while ago in one of our Hyderabad classrooms, a student excitedly showed me his “vision”. In tiny handwriting, he had filled six long pages with everything he wanted to fix in the world. My first instinct was to say, “Maybe you should focus – surely you can’t do all of that?” And then I stopped myself. I learned in that moment that I didn’t want to say no to anyone’s dreams. That maybe their dreams were just bigger than mine. To me positively transforming the world means giving children the means to fulfill their dreams for themselves and for the world. From the perspective of the children, how beneficial is it to be supported by different organizations through different projects and different innovations? How important is it for organizations to work together to provide different types of support and assistance to children in different ways? Collaboration and partnership are key in eliminating the crisis. No single player in the sector can tackle the widespread challenges with education we see today without a collective efforts. Different organizations also bring varied expertise and capabilities to support education through curriculum reform, infrastructure, teacher training, sanitation, nutrition and healthcare. The problems contributing to the crisis are manifold, but the shared belief in the potential for reform in the system drives the intentions to serve children effectively.

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With children in the poorest parts of India experiencing hygiene, sanitation and dysentery issues, along with major health issues arising from environmental pollution; how much of an impact does this have on the ability for children to attend school and learn? What needs to be done to support and improve this? There is a dire need to improve outcomes in schools by maintaining and improving sanitation and healthcare systems in schools. One of the major reasons girls drop out of schools is the lack of toilets- as well as a stigma attached to menstruation. Children’s families need to be involved in the awareness of these aspects as well, because they have a role to play in students remaining in school. One of our Teach For India students in Delhi, Sumera, who was also present at the Kids Education Revolution summit, started a “Safai” project which involved promoting the awareness of segregating biodegradable waste from non-biodegradable waste. This project spanned 50 families who now reduce polythene usage and use environment-friendly methods. It all begins with awareness. How important do you feel measuring impact is within education, particularly innovative education methods that have not been tested? This is extremely important as ultimately in schools, what gets tested gets taught. Given holistic education is hard to measure as compared to academics, schools often focus exclusively on academics/exam tested methods. I am hopeful that there is global energy around finding ways to measure a truly holistic education and hope that India plays a role in helping figure this out. Do you find education outcomes are hard to quantify or capture data on given that for a child at the age of 6, it could take another 10 years to truly see the impact and value of an educational framework or system? How do you overcome this? Yes - measuring the impact of education - given our ultimate goal is to have kids lead happy, meaningful and productive lives - is really complex to measure. Having said that, I think holistic measures can be broken down into indicators that help us see that we’re on the right path. I also think if we think beyond tests/exams to the huge array of ways that you can measure a child’s knowledge, mindsets and skills, we’ll find creative ways of measuring progress.

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What are some markers and effective measurements that you recommend for measuring the impact of innovative and new methods of teaching and providing education? I think looking at a child’s whole development and measuring progress against a real problem that a child is trying to solve is key. For example, I visited a 10th standard class where they assessment was building a house (yes, a real house). The whole year they had developed skills, mindsets and the knowledge to build an actual house, that they would donate to a homeless family at the end of the year. Imagine how important and relevant an assessment that was. Akanksha is a public-private partnership initiative; what is involved in a public-private partnership in the education landscape and how do children gain more benefits compared to being part of a public OR private education system? Simply put, they get the benefits of both. From the government system they get the infrastructure and facilities, from the private side they get motivated and high performing leadership and teachers. ▪


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The Impact of Self-Learning and Virtual Classrooms on my Education The petrifying and severe impact of COVID-19 has shaken the world to its core due to its deadly transmission vectors, and infects people in such a way that people might have no idea they are a carrier and spreading the disease further. Consequently, governments around the world have temporarily closed their respective educational institutions to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. India being among them, has also shut down all our educational institutions. As a repercussion, students have been impacted in a distinct way where little wonder, that the pandemic has led us from centuries old of using chalkon-board teaching model to one driven by technology. For me, the COVID-19 pandemic have driven me in new directions of learning. I have found myself more inclined to self-driven study and self-reliance during this period where India has completely stopped official learning and studies through school. Where we have lost our opportunity to receive formal education, the period has provided me sufficient time in fostering myself, explore my curiosities; however, it has placed me far off from the traditional educational set up of peer-to-peer learning interactions within large groups, and has forced me to withdraw from this social stage, that has always been an essential part of my learning journey and serves as a foundation to prepare myself to exit and thrive in the workforce I will soon need to join. Despite the negative effects which this ‘Act Of God’ has brought, the changes I have now adapted to, are now suiting me because I always wished to study in a way where there is no pressure of completing notebooks, and provide enough time allocation to multiple ways of learning, whilst simultaneously providing me the time to develop my football skills and fitness, which are important for me to maintain to keep playing for the Delhi National team. The new ways of learning I have adopted will not only benefit me in the short-term, but also skill me where I need to for long

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term goals. For instance, while going through any particular topic or chapter in my textbooks, I will try to search more information online that is relevant, in order to enable myself and add knowledge beyond my textbooks . Although my studying environment at home is lacking of the space, tools or atmosphere that the classroom has, studying alone in peace and calm without getting disturbed has its benefits. I also love having this opportunity to discuss the impact of virtual classrooms through PTW, and the impact my PTW teacher and Mentor Chirag Bhaiya is having on me. By providing information, guidance and encouragement, I’ve experienced how a Mentor can play an important role in nurturing career aspirations of students, but these virtual classrooms are more than that. They have helped me to acknowledge my best interest, abilities,


skills, and talent to explore more possibilities and opportunity beyond what I was previously cognizant off. These virtual classrooms are not only guiding me to choose the best pathways to achieving my life goals, but also sharpening me with skills I will need along this path. For instance; I have been guided and been practicing my writing analysis skills in persuasive and engaging English language and communication skills, and adopting reading habits in distinct way by Chirag Bhaiya that would prove to be boon for the journalism and communications workforce I aim to join as a professional. Even when I discussed my primary career goals to play professional football, Chirag Bhaiya never showed sign of reluctance or scepticism of my ability to peruse this career. on the contrary, he has been keen to find best ways to foster this in lockdown. The virtual classrooms have been focusing more on my execution of achieving my goals comparatively to any other aspects. The virtual classroom set up has given me the engagement opportunities to learn from professionals in football and other topics which have enabled me to broaden my circles outside my native circles. Before the PTW virtual classes, I had never been so enthusiastically engaged in my career planning and honing skills like this earlier and couldn’t come at a better time given I am sitting my year 12 school exams in a few months. So, whilst I miss some of the aspects of the physical classroom environment, and having school teachers, and being able to play football competitively, it’s been my fortune to be one of the students of virtual learning provided by PTW. ▪ Samdarshni

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Munjed Al Muderis

NOV 2020

POSITIVELY TRANSFORMING WORLD

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Two years ago we spoke to Professor Munjed Al Muderis about his inspiring yet harrowing story of becoming a refugee in Australia. Since being processed through the Australian refugee system, Professor Al Muderis has become an internationally renowned orthopedic surgeon. We sat down with the Professor a second time to discuss some of the work he has been doing in this field and see his views on modern lifestyles.

You spoke to us briefly about your inspiration for becoming a surgeon and wanting to bring the Terminator movie to reality. How does Osseointegration pave the way to creating that reality and how does the technology work? Growing up in a worn torn country I have seen many amputees and disabled people. When people lose limbs, their life changes and a significant proportion of these people become a burden on their family, society and themselves without adequate support. This results in major psychological problems for the individual and financial hardship on our country. Many people struggle to ask for assistance, for instance due to pride and not wanting to burden others, which sadly results in them taking their own lives as they feel useless. At the age of 12, I watched the ‘terminator’ movie, despite the irony of the purpose of the movie being not to merge humans with machines, however, this movie inspired me to merge the two to give disabled people their life back. Do you feel there is a lacking in social services, support and technology to help facilitate people who are physically differently-abled and do you feel that there is still social stigma that suggests that people who are differently-abled aren’t as capable of contributing to society like a fully-abled person? Overall people who have disabilities have significant difficulties getting all their needs fulfilled and depending on where you live, it could be even more difficult for people with disabilities. In the underdeveloped world, adults with disabilities still need to provide for their families, work and continue to live by the expectations of anyone who is fully-abled. There is no welfare system in many countries.

Read Professor Al Muderis’ Harrowing Story in Our June 2015 Edition here.

In a country like Australia and several European countries there are government support systems at least that help people with disabilities. Even within countries that do have disability schemes though, the support can differ dramatically depending on where you live. For instance, in different states of Australia there are different disability schemes which vary dramatically. Unfortunately, in a country like America the people struggle to get benefits because they need insurance policies. In terms of societies perception of a person with disability, I feel rightly or wrongly a disabled person with amputations will be looked at differently in society.

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Do you feel the future Osseointegration will be adaptable for people who have say, damage to certain bones or muscles in their limbs but still have their limbs intact? or is the future of this technology only for individuals with amputations?

performed several upper limb Osseointegration surgeries some of which are in combination with a new cutting edge surgical procedure called Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR), which enables a person to move a robotic limb with the power of mind.

This technology opens the door for wider application, to treat a wide range of disabilities including but not limited to, traumatic amputation, congenital limb loss, musculoskeletal malignancies, debilitating and non-reconstructable bone infection and spinal cord and brain injuries. Potentially, this technology will give people with disabilities greater independence and quality of life.

From your perspective, where do you see the potential for this technology within the next ten years; and how close to the natural human body will Osseointegration replicate the ability of the natural movement of the human body?

Currently your work is aimed at the lower limbs, but is there scope for the same technology to be developed in the upper limbs? Upper limb amputations or limb loss carries a dramatic negative impact on a person’s functionality, image, psychology and overall quality of life. Though a majority of patients who have undertaken Osseointegration are lower limb amputees, we have

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Technology is evolving at a revolutionary speed. In today’s world we can operate robots with mind control and we are now moving towards making robots sensate with lower limbs. Osseointegration patients have the capability of feeling the ground which is very close to what they experienced pre-amputation. We are currently in the process of attaching sensory fibres at the fingertips of robotic arms, which would enable patients to feel what they touch and recognize pressure sensory feedback. For example, patients could carry an egg without squashing it by applying sufficient force to carry the egg but not strong enough to break it.


Have effective do you feel development with osseointegration and neuroscience via technology like the BrainGate neural interface system will come to not only giving ergonomic limbs to patients, but also giving function that is controlled by the brain and mimics general human kinetics? There’s a lot of interest in this area of movement and evolution. The department of defence in the USA have funded significant research to build projects around target integration and sensory feedback. Other countries have private enterprise interest. With this technology being established, universities are also extending an arm to work together in this field. There are a handful of operations that have done that in Chicago, Australia, Sweden and Austria mainly. Once we improve the concept and it becomes reproducible, others will follow suit. We’re still far away but I think it’s possible in 100 years Aside from your pioneering work with Osseointegration, you also cover a wide range of orthopaedic surgeries. From your perspective, what are the most common orthopaedic surgeries you come across, and how do you see the landscape of orthopaedic surgery changing with an exponentially-ageing global population? With the increasing average age expectancy, it is expected that degenerative diseases will become more prevalent in knee and hip replacement surgery. Hip and knee replacement surgery was accepted as a standard practice in the late 60’s and early 70’s, nowa-days almost every qualified Orthopaedic surgeon would have done a few joint replacements in their career. It is expected that the number of joint replacements will steadily increase as the life expectancy increases and this is a natural progression, furthermore joint replacements will be performed on younger patients due to the general population becoming more competitive in athletics, resulting in higher impact injuries which accelerate the development of arthritis at an earlier age. Also the quality of material and techniques used has dramatically improved over the last few years, with joint replacement surgery being more predictable and sustaining long lasting outcomes. This encourages surgeons to be more comfortable to offer joint replacement surgery to patients. Why are TKR and THR so common and how can people avoid getting to a stage that they need them? Joint replacements are common due to the ageing population and natural progression of degeneration with age. Also, people are becoming more active and have a higher impact lifestyle, which would lead to the

development of arthritis at an early age. Unfortunately, to date there are no preventative measures for arthritis. There is a lot of attention being given to the young population due to the increased uptake of weight-lifting and weighted exercising at a younger age; including children as young as 8 taking up weight-lifting and high-impact sports. From your own clinical experience and research, do you see issues with these types of activities and long-term damage to the body? We used to only see hip replacements in the elderly. In recent years though, people are becoming more aggressive and enduring more impact in their activities. What was once the sport training standards for professional athletes is now becoming the standards and levels for children which exposes their body to much higher impact. Eventually they will need their joints replaced much earlier on in life. It’s very unfortunate that children are doing such heavy impact activities and exercise at such a youthful age as it will impact their overall health. They’re trying to become super strong but it is coming at a cost. Everything should be in moderation. Walking, swimming and cycling are also good exercise options and not just high impact sports and lifting. Even sports tennis can be fine but playing aggressive rugby, basketball or even soccer in the modern games can be very taxing on the body, and the way people are taking this to the extreme is worrying. You hear about injured athletes going back into competition after just 6 weeks or even 3 months after a knee reconstruction. This is terrible because it takes months, or even longer than a year for some injuries to fully heal. People need to respect the need to heal fully and that humans don’t heal as quickly as we think it does. Training or competing under injury leads the body to fail long-term and develop arthritis. It varies one type of injury to the other of course but for example, ligaments can take at least 3 months to reach 70% recovery and a reconstruction can take a year. What are some key tips you would recommend to people so that they are able to maintain their body and functions in terms of orthopaedics and musculo-skeletal health well into their old age, and hopefully, be able to avoid coming in to see you. Active walking is the best exercise and low impact activity that maintains joint movement. The best way to live healthier is to eat a balanced diet avoiding obesity and overloading the joints.

THR = Total Hip Replacement TKR = Total Knee Replacement 23


There is research that emphasizes that weighted exercise and resistance exercise can help reduce deterioration of the body in later years; especially for the elderly in terms of reduced muscle density, general health, osteoporosis and other markers of physical health; do you recommend these types of exercise to people or prefer other methods of maintaining muscle mass in old age and body function? It is true but it is important to understand what moderation means. To avoid osteoporosis, you do need to load the bone but that can be done through different exercises. It all depends on what the exercise is and how heavy the impact is. Everything in moderation is fine. The global ageing population has many people worried about the future and the burden of diseases that are growing globally. Where do you see medical advancements in mobility and functioning making big leaps in the near future to make the process of ageing easier and do you feel through technology we will be able to restore mobility function back to people’s younger days? The world is divided into developed countries where people are living longer, breathing clean air, eating healthier food and overall living in a healthy environment. In developing countries people live in an overcrowded environment, have poor sanitation, environment, education and as a consequence generally have a higher reproduction rate and die younger. However, arthritis and degenerative diseases are overall more of a problem in developed countries. In terms of technology advancements stem cells are far away from reality.

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Do you feel that the burden of disease combined with the ageing population of the developed world will have impact that will even reduce the living standards of developed nations? Musculoskeletal illnesses have a big toll on the health system and will impact the economy and productiveness of the workforce. There are many levels of impact: cost of treatment, the expenses associated with lack of work and productivity, and dependence on social services. It’s a multi-faceted problem that will have impact on the future. Do you feel that technological advancements in medicine will make prosthetic limbs more functional and more advanced for mobility purposes than the natural human body like the Terminator movies? I am not in the business of making super humans, the main goal of the work I do is to restore functionality to people who are disabled and bring them as close as possible to the level of functionality, however, it is very likely that science will reach this ethical boundary and eventually produce super humans. It will happen that we supersede the body’s natural ability through technology through a super human. It’s just a matter of time. There are however serious questions around the ethics and the morals. I am in the business of bringing mobility back but not enhancement. ▪


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Volunteer Article

LEADING A VOLUNTEERING TEAM OF THE VOLUNTEERS, BY THE VOLUNTEERS, FOR THE VOLUNTEERS 26


Hi, I am Julie-Ann Yeowell the People and Culture Director at PTW. I am based in Queensland in the Whitsundays however I am originally from Perth, W.A. where I re-located from in 2014. I love almost every sport, watching movies, listening to music, reading, going to the gym and travelling. I have travelled to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bali, New Zealand, Fiji and all over Australia (apart from the Northern Territory). My professional background is in customer service and the travel industry however I completed a career change in 2017 towards more Human Resources and Administration career aspirations. In 2018 I successfully completed a Diploma of Human Resources Management through TAFE Queensland and I am two years away from completing my Bachelor of Social Science through Swinburne Online. My main career goal now is to pursue a career in the Human Resources area. Personally, I hope to do a lot more travel in the future with India, Europe and the USA high on list of next travel destinations. I am currently completing a Bachelor of Social Science with a major in Behavioural Studies through Swinburne Online and I started this degree in March 2020. I like the sociology and psychology aspects of this degree structure and learning about human behaviour. The reasons why I chose this degree and area of study as I am fascinated by human behaviour and how people think plus the qualification will help me with my career in Human Resources.

the community a better place. As a HR manager and People and Culture manager, when it comes to volunteering, these roles involve coordinating the HR team, allocating work to be completed, coordinating team meetings, helping to build the culture of the organisation and the team, along with approving applicants who want to volunteer with PTW. When it comes to managing volunteers, a People and Culture Manager looks for volunteers with the appropriate experience or qualifications in the area they would like to volunteer in, alignment of values that the organisation also has, commitment to the role and organisation plus wants to contribute. On a more personal level, ‘volunteering’ to me means being part of a growing organisation, building relationships, developing my personal and career skills, helping people to develop and supporting the organisation and other volunteers. Positively Transforming World to me is about contributing towards developing a better world where everyone has access to education and are living in a healthy world. Positively Transforming World also means to me belonging, teamwork and change. ▪ Julie-Ann Yeowell People and Culture Director

I really believe in the values regarding health and education that relates to PTW. I also really like the team aspect of PTW. Although we all have our individual roles we are all volunteers making a difference in the world. I started off as a HR Coordinator and earlier this year was offered the People and Culture Director position which is allowing me to develop a lot of skills. I am passionate about helping people and PTW to grow and develop to all that it can become. I have been loyal to PTW as the organisation’s values align to mine personally and I have been able to develop a lot of experience in the Human Resources area in the roles I have done or am doing. I am very excited to see the developments that are happening with PTW as there is a lot of great things happening which also sparks my interest in remaining commitment and loyal to PTW. Volunteering means to me being part of something big, social engagement, building relationships and contributing. I feel, with the nature of COVID-19, that volunteering gives people a sense of community, personal involvement and connection. Socially, volunteering gives people the chance to communicate with other people, build connections, avoid isolation and make

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Education | Volunteering | Health

Positively Transforming world 2

Profile for Positively Transforming World

PTW: Nov 2020  

In this issue, we interview education leader Shaheen Mistri, internationally-leading surgeon Munjed Al Muderis, life with pets, insight into...

PTW: Nov 2020  

In this issue, we interview education leader Shaheen Mistri, internationally-leading surgeon Munjed Al Muderis, life with pets, insight into...

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