Introducing Taarush Grover, a high school senior with a profound mission to reshape India’s educational landscape under the motto ‘Impact through Innovation.’ He is not just another student but an education activist, passionately driving change and inspiring many of his peers.
Taarush’s remarkable journey is adorned with accolades such as the Diana Award, The King Constantine Medal, and the MIT Solve Grant. Notably, his work has been recognized internationally, as he was chosen as an artist to be featured at the UP COP26 conference.
So, who is Taarush Grover? He hails from Gurugram and is currently a Class 12 student at Shri Ram School – Aravali, Gurugram.
From a young age, Taarush’s inquisitiveness set him on a path of keen observation, fostering his talent for problem-solving through rigorous research and analysis. His approach is to delve deeply into research, enabling him to question and comprehend every facet of a problem, thus forming a comprehensive first-person perspective.
Taarush’s role as an elder brother and a school captain equipped him with valuable leadership skills, enabling him to confront challenges while continually evolving. Furthermore, his grandparents instilled in him the values of observing injustice and the significance of “seva” (selfless service) to the community. These principles ultimately propelled his endeavor to revolutionize the education system.
His passion for continuous learning coupled with creativity stands as his greatest asset. His aspiration is not only to transform the conventional educational approach but also to sow the seeds of lifelong self-learning among students. Simultaneously, he endeavors to mobilize his community toward the pursuit of social justice.
One of Taarush’s remarkable projects is ‘Volanity.’ This automated tech platform connects over 260 students and university volunteers to impart non-academic education and 21st-century skills to underprivileged students in 23 government and non-government partner secondary schools across India. Volanity addresses the challenges of volunteer acquisition, conversion, retention, and recognition while providing a comprehensive policy structure.
So, what inspired Taarush to embark on this transformative journey? It was a conversation with the domestic help at his home that shed light on the educational disparities her children were experiencing. The lack of resources and facilities prompted Taarush to volunteer, initially teaching design fundamentals, art, and creative thinking.
As his commitment grew, he decided to steer the course of education toward a subject that would be accessible to a broader population, with the aim of building a better, brighter, and happier society. He extended his volunteering efforts by conducting online classes for five different NGO schools. During this period, he recognized the challenges that dissuade enthusiastic volunteers, such as cumbersome email exchanges, scheduling, class sizes, safety measures, content verification, and more.
In November 2020, Taarush initiated comprehensive on-ground research to gain an in-depth understanding of the issues, aiming to develop a solution that satisfies all stakeholders: volunteers, students, and NGO administration. His approach involved interviewing the founders and directors of 43 government and non-government organizations across India, along with individual interactions with 132 students from NGO schools and 97 student volunteers.
Volanity’s impact is two-fold. Under the non-academic learning segment, students receive instruction in various skills, including fine arts, design, music, life skills, and confidence building. This approach has left a mark on over 45 middle and upper secondary school students, with a notable increase in high school volunteer conversion rates.
The social-emotional learning aspect includes a team of experts, including a child psychologist and behavior scientists. Taarush has developed 50 SEL modules encompassing crucial transformative skills such as critical thinking, responsible decision-making, social awareness, and self-awareness. Shoolini University has acknowledged these modules and adopted them.
These 50 modules are categorized into five core areas, promoting self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
Taarush’s goal for Volanity is to ensure that people across urban and rural areas of India can compete globally and make their voices heard. His plans for 2024 involve expanding volunteer participation to four countries, partnering with more universities, launching an accessible portal for content sharing in regional languages, and introducing an undergraduate minor at Shoolini University for volunteering. Additionally, he aims to establish interactive classrooms in rural government schools through public-private partnerships.
By 2025, Taarush envisions the decentralized model for non-academic and social-emotional learning to empower young minds, regardless of their backgrounds.
Taarush’s journey comes with a valuable piece of advice: “No one will take you seriously at first; you have to prove your worth through your work.” NGOs that initially rejected him have now recognized his contributions and wish to collaborate.
Taarush Grover’s story is a testament to the power of youth-driven initiatives and the transformative impact they can have on education and society at large.