Star Volunteer Spotlight
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Program that Blends Project Management with English-Language Skills
Volunteers from PMI Pune-Deccan India Chapter, along with Makarand Hardas, chapter vice president, academics, and PMIEF liaison, have been working with schools in and around Pune to introduce project management to their students. They specifically choose schools lacking in basic facilities and where children come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
When Pujya Bapuji Salunkhe Vidyalay, Asawali, a primary school in Khandala, faced difficulties in improving the English-language skills of its students, the principal approached them. Hardas and the team designed a project management program that used both English and Marathi. Over time, it helped improve the children’s confidence in English.
“When outsiders come to work on their English skills, students become shy and do not open up or ask questions,” says Hardas.
So, chapter volunteers started bi-lingual project management sessions in the school. They used analogies from cricket to drive home project management principles. “We showed them how cricket stars began their personal journeys – ‘projects’ – by identifying the desire to be cricket players, planning what to do to become athletes, and working hard to achieve their goals. This way we explained to them concepts such as planning, goals, and deliverables,” says Hardas.
At subsequent sessions, students learned about communication management, as volunteers shared stories in Marathi and asked the students to translate them into English. “Now when we visit, a student will say, ‘Sir, I have written a page for you in English.’ In the last few months, we have seen the quality and confidence of spoken English rising week after week. We have seen the impact on teachers also,” he adds.
Prajakta Dhamal-Bhoite taught English classes with an emphasis on verbal skills, two other chapter volunteers provided logistical support, and PMI India staff member Leena Gupte supported the chapter in developing the partnership.
Students also participated in a drawing contest on the theme, “Dream School” — in other words, expressing ideas on how to turn their classroom into a “dream” learning environment. These drawings have given volunteers an idea of what the school needs.
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