Qimpro Gold Standard 2017

Shaheen Mistri


Chief Executive Officer, Teach for India

SHAHEEN MISTRI is the CEO of Teach For India, and serves as one of its founding board members. She is an education warrior, trying to give Mumbai and Pune slum children a shot at shaping their destiny.

Ms Mistri left India soon after she was born. She spent eighteen years growing up in Lebanon, Greece, Britain, Indonesia and the US. On a visit to Mumbai, when she was eighteen, she had a heart-break moment when she saw Mumbai street children with their noses pressed against her car window. She was shocked.

Ms Mistri soon came to realize that children living in the slums lack access to quality education, and are deprived of the skills necessary to compete in India’s formal job market. As a result, she founded the first Akanksha Center in 1989, enrolling fifteen children and employing friends from St Xavier’s College, as volunteers. This initiative eventually evolved into the Foundation, a non-profit education project that provides after-school tutoring to children from humble backgrounds. has lived up to its name, “aspiration”. It currently reaches out to over 6,500 children in 20 schools in Mumbai and Pune.

Akanksha has teachers who teach children an innovative hands-on curriculum that includes: art, theater, values, civic responsibility, reading, math, and English. Once students demonstrate their commitment by attending tutorials for one month, Akanksha makes a bigger commitment to them. Namely, to provide these children with a strong educational foundation, means to develop self-esteem, and means to nurture ethical values, until they are eighteen and ready for the job market. Ms Mistri. visionary leader.

As the relevance and recognition of Akanksha’s work grew, Ms Mistri continued to see growing disparity between the magnitude of problems that plague India’s education system and the contribution Akanksha could make to solve them. So she benchmarked the best practices of Teach For America. She learnt from Teach For America that it recruits and trains outstanding recent college graduates, who commit to teach for two years in US public schools. Her solution: Adopt and adapt this best practice for her mission in India.

Along with five colleagues, Ms Mistri established Teach For India in 2008. She used her conviction and belief to motivate college students and working professionals to join the Teach For India movement; and devote two years of their lives to eliminate educational inequality in India. Since then, Teach For India has recruited, 2,700 Teaching Fellows. Currently, Teach For India connects with over 40,000 children through the direct work of 1,200 Teaching Fellows and 250 staff members across seven regions.

Ms Shaheen Mistri. A Rebel with a Cause.

We congratulate Ms Shaheen Mistri. Our Qimpro Gold Standard 2017 for Education.

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