Nilabh Agrawal is the founder and CEO of Instilt – Educate, a non-profit with a mission to level the playing field between children who come from fortunate backgrounds and those who don’t have the same privilege. He speaks about his experiences and journey.

What prompted you to create an organisation to support less privileged children?

Back in December 2020, when the pandemic was at its peak. I had only been in India for about a month, having moved from Sri Lanka. I went around the city of Mumbai and saw massive inequalities. You can see huge skyscrapers and really crowded shanties right next to each other. That instigated me to do something about it. Then we had some workers come over to our house, and when I met their children, I realised the pandemic had pushed them into online classes. like the rest of us. The pandemic helped the less privileged communities embrace the digital, opening them up to a world of opportunities. I wanted to capitalise on this silver lining and give them some unique exposure. They are just as smart as me and you, but their communication is often used to invalidate their intellect. They have great ideas, but since they struggle to communicate them, they are never heard. Our organisation hoped to help them compete with children from more fortunate backgrounds, and establish a level-playing field. At the beginning, we started with only a couple of children from our immediate network. but over time, we’ve grown substantially helping thousands of children across India.

According to World Health Organisation’s research, students are facing many problems such as distractions and depression due to the online mode of education. What are your thoughts on this?

Speaking from the personal experience of the kids we saw, I think the majority of them have no more than one device in their household. In the case of siblings, one device is usually shared among three or even four sometimes. Internet access is another big challenge. All of these factors contribute to unreliable online experiences, which can be quite stressful for the students. They sometimes don’t even know if they can stay connected till the end of a lesson. At the same time, I think what’s important from what I’ve observed is that when the students find a community, it gets really easy. Since everyone is going through the same problems, including the tutors, the spirit of community can make it more tolerable and reduce a lot of the stress

Tell us about your experience of moving from Sri Lanka to India.

Both India and Sri Lanka are incredibly diverse in terms of cultures. India has diverse people speaking a myriad languages. Sri Lanka has many foreigners with whom I was able to interact. As for the mindset of students, in India. I see that 90% of my classmates want to do Engineering, and that’s something we should address in our society. In Sri Lanka, people have diverse curricular and extracurricular interests, and want to enter many fields such as politics. arts, writing, etc. There’s a lot more variety and flexibility. If Indians also start thinking more outside the box, I think it could be incredibly beneficial.

Who was your inspiration to start your venture?

I’m inspired by multiple people in my life, and generally the children I saw around me struggling with English. My initial thought was always about the challenges they would face when they grew up and sat in a job interview. What motivates me and what I suggest to people is that it is okay to have interests in different areas. The best advice I have got is to keep exploring and picking up new skills along the way. Try, try, try until you find what you really like. One of my seniors a long time ago told me. If you are looking to find your passion, think about what is something you can do at 3 a.m. and not worry about when you are going to sleep. That’s your passion because it makes you lose track of time. How can people with a fear of public speaking overcome it? Early on, it was a little bit difficult for me too, but when you are confident they only get better through public speaking. When I was struggling, I began to research more and more on the topics I was speaking about. That’s something you have to do when speaking for large crowds. If you are not confident, research about it until you are someone who knows everything about that particular topic. This is a huge confidence builder, and it definitely helped me. If you are shy and trying out public speaking for the first time, know what you’re going to speak about and practise, because the more prepared you are, the more confident you are.

A few words of inspiration for our readers…

It’s completely fine if you haven’t still figured out your interest. All of us are in the same boat, and you still have the rest of your life to figure it out. Just don’t stop trying things because you never know. Another piece of advice that has stuck with me is that You always have a choice and you have to create your own choices’. If you feel as if you are in a box, remember you have a choice. There’s always a third option called ‘None of the above. Whenever opportunity strikes, just say yes and open the door! Because if you don’t try something, you’ll never know if it would’ve worked out.

Picture Credit : Google 

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