Rocket Learning

Rocket Learning

Simran Kaur made it to the local newspaper twice before joining Rocket Learning. First, when the pandemic hit, she went around her city distributing food, essential items, and sanitary pads. Then, she helped domestic helpers in her community who had lost their jobs learn how to sew cotton face masks and sell them to retailers.

Even before she graduated college, Simran tutored younger children in her community whose parents did not have the means to send them to private tutors. Naturally, her passion for change and social impact led her to pursue a master’s in social work. In 2020, she graduated from Punjab University and joined Rocket Learning’s team as one of the first eight members.

This Children’s Day, we chatted with Simran, Senior Program Manager at Rocket Learning, about her journey, passion for social impact, and why she chooses to work with young children.

Q. Why did you choose education as the focus for addressing various social issues?

I have always believed in the power of education. Education is a fundamental human right, and I want to ensure that everyone around me has access to the support they needed.

Q. What’s the most rewarding aspect of working in the social impact sector?

The most rewarding part is the on-the-ground interactions with people. Being a national netball player has allowed me to travel extensively, especially to rural districts with diverse teams of women. Listening to their stories and experiencing different communities ignited my passion for working directly with people and making a tangible impact.

Q. What drew you to working with young children specifically?

As a tutor, I encountered seventh graders who couldn’t spell their names correctly. Their foundational skills were lacking, making teaching what I considered basic concepts challenging. This experience made me realize the power and importance of early childhood education. It’s like building a permanent home —without a sturdy base, the structure will collapse.

Q. Could you share your experience with our product launch in Chandigarh, one of our first districts?

We launched in Chandigarh in 2020. First, we created 36 WhatsApp groups with Anganwadi workers and parents. We didn’t have an AI system back then, so we manually sent information to all workers. The response was fantastic, primarily because the government had provided smartphones and internet access to Anganwadi workers in Chandigarh. During the pandemic, Anganwadis were not operational, and the parents we serve did not have adequate awareness, information, or motivation (AIM) to give their children access to quality early childhood education at home. So, they were just ecstatic that their children could continue learning through our content!

But the actual test of our model was after the pandemic. We were moved to see how parents continued to engage enthusiastically giving us the proof of concept we needed!

Q. Any particular child from the first cohort that stands out to you?

Yes! One of our power users, Maninder, who is now in primary school! I am sharing a story from a time before we started sending out hyper-localized content. Like all other national holidays, we sent celebratory and educational content during Christmas. Maninder noticed that we hadn’t done the same for a local Punjabi festival important to people living in Chandigarh. The young boy took the initiative to create a video and followed our usual educational script. His mother asked if I could share it with all the WhatsApp groups, and I did! This showed the child’s enthusiasm and initiative, highlighting the impact of our engagement.

Q. How have children from our first cohort transitioned to primary school? Any feedback from parents or teachers?

Parents and teachers often tell us that the children who graduated from our program are well ahead in first grade. Aware of the challenges some parents face due to limited resources, teachers are curious about how these children have acquired so much knowledge. The parents we work with know that it is because of their daily Rocket Learning activities with their child in the last three years.

Q. What is the best part of working here after three years with Rocket Learning?

A. The people, without a doubt! Finding a substitute for my work is never a concern — there’s always someone eager to help. My perception of non-profits has also changed; Rocket Learning’s business structure allows for in-depth and practical work, proving that impactful change is possible in this sector.

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