I come from a family that has long believed that the only way up is through education. This is a teaching that is so ingrained in the past three generations of our family that we are simply unable to think of any other way to improve our situation. To date, if anyone asks me for advice about anything, my suggestion always includes education in some way.
Yesterday marks the day my dad would have been 96. He was a surgeon whose family had few means, he studied under the street lamps on Mumbai’s streets, worked in all sorts of kitchens to pay his medical school bills (an experience that made him an amazing cook), and had a whole bunch of interesting stories that come with survival. At his funeral more than 20 years ago, many told us how he inspired them to become more educated.
While I sometimes regret I never became a doctor (especially when I am binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy), his call to action for uplifting others through education rings loud and clear. It is therefore not a surprise that I find myself now as a crusader for financial literacy among the youth.
I founded Explorer Hop about 3 years ago with the goal to provide equal opportunities for financial literacy education to all. The idea was simple - anyone, irrespective of whether they have money or not, should have the opportunity to learn how to manage their finances and start an initiative. I naively thought that simply offering these programs would be sufficient and soon realized this was not the case!
You see, it’s not about EQUAL ACCESS but EQUITABLE ACCESS. Just because you enable someone to attend a program, does not mean that they are able to get the same out from it. For that to happen you need to make it equitable. At Explorer Hop, equitable access to financial literacy has become our goal. We have pondered, experimented and continued to innovate in order to find ways for all children to get the same fundamental understanding about money.
Equitable learning has meant we welcome kids who have low attention spans by creating several shorter punchier lessons, welcome kids from differentiated backgrounds who may have limited technology to connect to our online programs by offering low tech alternatives as well, welcome kids who have concerns with math, by building formulas into our investment spreadsheets that help them understand the logic. Over 2000 students have been through our programs, and we have learned from each of them.
Here is what I have learned:
- Any pedagogy or teaching method is useless if even one student does not get it.
- To make a difference requires more than just money - it requires some serious out of box thinking and a commitment to drive change.
- You can be passionate about a cause, but the delivery of that vision has to be via whatever medium is the most accessible.
And lastly, I have learned that education continues to be the easiest way to uplift an entire generation.