Subhankar , founder ” Lantern Edusports Foundation “
In the next story of GoBarefootRealHeroes we are sharing an inspiring story of Subhankar.
“Hello. I am Subhankar from Lantern Edusports Foundation. We work with the school leaders
and teachers in the underprivileged communities of Maharashtra.
While growing up, I always felt that I was privileged to get where I was, considering that my
mother was from a scheduled caste family in a remote village and my father from a family who
migrated to India during the 1947 partition and had to start all over again. I had a privileged life
because my parents took the pain and fought against all odds to get educated. A software
engineer by qualification, I joined Accenture after finishing graduation. Two years into my job and
after some soul searching, I realized I wanted to do a job in which I could contribute directly to
remove inequity in the society and thus I joined the Teach For India Fellowship.
My first introduction to students was in 2014 when I joined the Teach For India Fellowship. I was
placed in an 8th-grade classroom in Ja’Fari English High School, Shivaji Nagar, Govandi. There
were 140 bright-eyed adolescent kids that I was responsible for. The students were very
restless, it was difficult for them to see instant results from hard-work and that constant
disappointment had normalized an attitude of disrespect in the classroom for them. Some of
them were slow learners and in response to the apathy their immediate environment had shown
to their problems – the students had given up on studies themselves. I would go as far as to say
that they would not be in school if they had a choice. Given this tough community landscape, no
fanciful behavior management techniques worked with them and the all-important classroom
outcomes were very abysmal.
In the midst of this cacophony of disappointments, I realized that the students loved sports and
they would be at their best behavior on the day they had a PT lecture to make sure that they
didn’t miss out on it. They had only one hour of playtime in the week when they would chase
each other or play hide-and-seek in the backyard of the school. The school didn’t have any
proper playground equipment, physical education teacher(s), and children were devoid of any
opportunity to truly and blissfully play.
The idea of using sports as a tool to impact the behavior and associated learning outcomes of
children came to me and I started rewarding the students who displayed good behavior
throughout the week for sports. This worked like magic. The students, even the most
dis-invested ones started working hard for this reward: completing classwork and homework on
time in order to get to play on weekends.
I reached out to a few other fellows and they also shared similar experiences. We met and
discussed how we can promote this further. We thought of having an inter-school competition for
interested schools. Leading to the tournament, we also organized some training sessions for the
participants to prepare them better. We also got proper playing equipment, clothing, and shoes
for them. This program instilled a lot of confidence in the students and during the training
sessions and matches, we could also see leadership qualities in students, students imbibing
values like hard work, respect, and grit. It also helped to break gender stereotypes, as girls
participated in the program too. A lot of positive changes were seen, like children taking
ownership to be on time to the practice ground, children showing self-control and choosing
healthy food, children making plans together for a match, students giving and taking feedback to
and from each other. We were thrilled to see so many desirable impacts in the lives of our
students and we decided to do the program every year and we started The Right Pitch (TRP), a life-
skills cum sports development program for children from underprivileged backgrounds as my
Be The Change Project in 2014.
I stayed with my students for 3 years during their grades 8, 9, and 10. Not only did I teach them
their academic subjects, but I was also their mentor, sports coach, and most importantly, their
elder brother. I also realized that with all my efforts in the 3 years, I have only been able to work
with 140 students in my class, while there are more than 2000 children in the same school and
320 million children all over India, who have not received a quality education. It is with this
thought, I got into school leadership, at the end of my Fellowship.
After that, for two years I worked as an Assistant School Leader (ASL) in a low-income school in
Malwani, Mumbai. In my two years as ASL, I tried new structures, gave training, observed
lessons, gave feedback, had leadership conversations with the teachers. I had my moments of
joy when teachers used new teaching techniques, made structures for behavior management, or
implemented feedback immediately. But I also struggled a lot with tracking student outcomes,
consistency with the structures, fixed mindsets of school staff, management and parents, lack of
integrity. I realized that there are too many challenges in the school and community and it cannot
be dependent on a set of teachers or the school leader; it has to be a movement. I thought about
what made me so much invested in the vision – “One day all children will attain an excellent
education” and the answer was the Teach For India fellowship experience I went through. I
thought why can’t we have some of the existing teachers and school leaders from the community
to undergo a similar experience and then after the Fellowship, empower them to lead changes in
With this thought, I founded Lantern Edusports Foundation with the vision of providing holistic
education to all children from underprivileged families by empowering passionate educators from
the community. In 2014, which started as a project in my Teach For India classroom with 140
children has grown over the last 6 years and we have worked with more than 3000 students,
over 50 teachers, and 30 sports coaches from over 25 schools and more than 10 communities in
One thought on “Subhankar , founder ” Lantern Edusports Foundation “”
Great story Subhankar, inspiring you see my school mate doing such great work. Keep it up !