Born in a middle class Bengali family, Roshni Mukherjee feels blessed to have been always supported her wonderful parents. They always motivated her to be good at everything she did. Being always been inclined towards academics in school as well as college, Roshni was the topper in school, and was a Science Merit Scholarship holder in College. After completing M.Sc from HansRaj College, Delhi University, she joined Wipro that was a campus placement. Later, after 3 years, she worked with Hewlett Packard (HP) as a Senior Quality Analyst for almost 3 years, and then finally resigned to pursue her dream of building a free education platform.
Today, Roshni Mukherjee runs her venture ExamFear Education in 2011 to provide quality education to students free of cost. Lack of good teachers and good schools with quality education in remote areas prompted her to start with creating online video lessons so that she could reach all parts of the country. ExamFear.com is a one-stop platform that has video lessons on Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology for Class 6,7,8, 9, 10, 11, 12. There are more than 6000 video lessons already created for students. More than 20 lakhs students’ benefit from ExamFear.com per month.
Here are the excerpts of an exclusive conversation Apeksha News Network had with educationalist, Roshni Mukherjee.
How has been the journey so far for you as an online teacher who teaches for free?
It has been an extremely satisfying journey. The best thing is that I spend the entire day doing what I always wanted to do. That is happiness for me. I feel students are recognizing my efforts, and I am able to help them. Words cannot express the happiness I feel reading their appreciations through emails, posts and comments on various social media platforms. Even If I am able to make quality education accessible to one such child who was in need of it, I think that single child would transform many lives for better in future.
If you teach for free, what do you do for your living?
I worked with an IT industry when I started ExamFear Education back in 2011. However, I resigned from my IT job and started teaching full time in 2014. To sustain our organization, we have few alternate sources of revenue like advertisements and contribution from viewers in the form of ‘Pay as you Like’.
Education today is considered as a business. What your opinion on same?
Fortunately or unfortunately it is true. It is sad to see that not only the quality of education; but the facilities provided in an educational organization is directly proportional to the amount of money they charge. Schools and colleges with high fee structure provide premium infrastructure and five star facilities, but sometimes amidst all these facilities the basic essence of learning is lost.
The basic essence of education is learning. No matter whether it is an expensive private school or a low cost aided school, the learning experience of a child should not be compromised.
In a similar way, if we look at most of the low cost schools, many of them cannot even afford good teachers or basic infrastructure like electricity, tables and chairs.
Many cases have been witnessed wherein children take adverse steps like suicide as they are not able to meet expectations of their family/parents in terms of education. What is your opinion on same? How this issue can be eradicated, or such things can be prevented? How can government help in this, any suggestions to the government?
Parents and teachers should not put too much pressure on a child to perform. Every child is unique. Not all of them would be a top scorer; someone might be interested in sports, someone might like music, someone would grow up to be a scientist.
We, as a society, should stop expecting our kids to perform in terms of good marks in exams. Many a times, we end up judging a child only on the basis of his exam score. Setting up too many expectations from the child or creating a lot of negativity around them pressurizes them to the core, which in turn acts as a negative trigger.
What are some overlooked issues for the overall education system in India on which you wish to focus and work?
In India, education is too much exam centric. The focus is more on numbers, scores and cut-offs and less on the real conceptual learning. In fact as exams approach, we start receiving numerous requests from children across the country to create exam related content, as they are extremely afraid of exams.
Hence, our efforts constantly aim to make learning more simplified and fun so that children do not study for the fear of exams but for the love of learning.
You have been part of the education system for a long considerate time. Education plays a huge role towards the growth of the country, considering culture, youth, etc. What do you feel that what kind of education system does India needs currently?
It was be more focused on ‘Do and Learn’. Experimentation takes a backseat in our current curriculum. The concept of self-learning and peer learning should be encouraged, which in turn would help in overall confidence building and personality development in children. Less focus on marks and more focus on understanding should be aimed. Having said that, we do see changes are coming up these days in terms of examination pattern to ensure more practical activities are included in subjects like Math, Science.
What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?
We all have our own share of ups and downs. When I started off, time management has been one of the biggest challenges as I already had a day job in IT. I used to work late till nights and over the weekends to create educational content for ExamFear.com.
Now I feel that time management is an ongoing challenge as we grow. I have a little baby to take care of, and hence management of time plays a critical role even now. Also as we expand, we have lot of other things to be looked after, and not just the content creation. Besides, sustainability has also been an ongoing challenge as we work on low revenue models.
What is the biggest struggle of a woman entrepreneur today in India?
Every entrepreneur, irrespective of gender has his own share of challenges. Having said that, woman being primarily responsible for taking care of the family and the child find it more challenging to strike the balance between personal and professional life. However, these days we do see a lot of programs in the corporate as well as the government that encourages a woman to take her career ahead along with other commitments.
These days, every other person wants to start a school or tuition classes. What is that one quality, if a person has, should think of taking up teaching as a profession?
Passion to teach is important as teaching is an art.
Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career as an entrepreneur?
If you are determined enough, you will definitely achieve your goals. Determination and hard work together will always find ways to all your problems and obstacles.
Movement for equality of women’s rights has been a long battle. Equal opportunities and social rights for women… education, employment, etc. How far has this equality game reached or is successful? Can you suggest ways in which this can be achieved?
I have come across many families where young girls and boys are raised differently. Boys are sent to better schools so that they have better career prospects, they are encouraged to play outdoor or take up extracurricular; whereas girls are trained more on qualities like cooking and household chores. Sometimes they are even denied access to good schools.
Woman, in herself is unique, with her abilities to handle multiple things starting from family, relations, household chores and work. Unfortunately, lives of women in many remotes areas are still miserable. It would be great if these awareness programs or women’s day celebration, which generally happens where women are doing good in life should start happening in those areas. As women, we all should believe that we are not inferior.
Apeksha News Network congratulates Roshni Mukherjee for her remarkable contribution so far towards building an educated India and wishes her good luck for her future endeavours!