Making school the centre of her Universe: Sanjana’s story
Sanjana resides in Nalapar with her parents and three siblings. Her family migrated from rural Punjab to Delhi in search of better job opportunities. However, their monthly income remained stagnant at a mere Rs 6,000 a month. Sanjana could not afford school due to long distance, family pressure and monetary and social constraints.
She would watch other children go with satchels on their bag and later in the day and do their homework and she would get upset. When the EOW Project team began approaching people in her neighbourhood and she heard what the bus provided and how children like her got an opportunity to study free of cost, she was ecstatic. Soon, the team from EOW visited her home and talked to her parents.
It was agreed to send Sanjana to school. She knew that god had answered her prayers. She went to the temple and thanked Him for his benevolence. She planned and prepared her lessons before hand and was one of the most attentive students in class. She became a favourite with her teachers and was one of the first girls whose names was on the list to be mainstreamed to a government school.
“I have learnt so much from my teacher. She provided me insights into the world which I want to belong to. When I grow up, I would like to become like her so that I can guide others like me the same way.”
Scoring a perfect 10 on an educational transformation scale: Arjun’s story
13-yeare old Arjun, lives in Hoti camp slum community, in Delhi, with his uncle and aunt. During one of the field visits to Hoti camp, he was found in a dirty and unhygienic state. In the initial interaction which the EOW teachers had, they saw he was easily intimidated and unresponsive. After a few visits, he started mixing up with teachers. Finally, he enrolled in the EOW programme.
As he began to open up, the teachers discovered he was being ill treated by his uncle and aunt. This contributed to his erratic moods and depressive behaviour. He even harboured the thought of running away from home.
He got into the habit of begging in the temple in Rangpuri area. Post his induction in the EOW, he was given regular counselling by teachers on the importance of education, healthy lifestyle and values. Gradually, his personality began to change and his appearance and behaviour showed major improvement. He was punctual in boarding the EOW bus for studies and did not go out to beg.
He studied hard and cleared the Open Basic Examination that will now get him mainstreamed in the government school for higher studies. He is instrumental in bringing getting more children enrolled for non-formal education (NFE). Overall, 165 students like Arjun have got inducted into government schools and another 34 took their exams in February this year. Nearly 100% who took the exams (199 out of 200) got successfully mainstreamed, which is a major success for the programme.
Non-formal education provides beacon of hope: Habeebul’s story
Before Sukarya’s Education on Wheels (EOW) entered this slum pocket in Delhi’s South West hub, there were many young children like 7-year old Habeebul who roamed around the area, helping their parents sift through garbage piles looking for food and scrap material. He was known to have a keen eye, was familiar with most families living in the vicinity and was popular too. Given his gregarious and fun-loving nature, he was fondly called crazy boy (paagal ladka).
“When I asked children in class about other kids residing in the slum, Habeebul was the first to share the names of all and their whereabouts. He quickly mobilised them from the slum, shops and other hang-out places and brought them to the EOW bus.”, says Gurpreet, a teacher at Sukarya, who was deputed to this slum pocket.
Habeebul was keen to learn. He asked questions and was curious about the world around him. He was open to trying new and different things and had a creative way of approaching routine matters. Little wonder when he was admitted in the Non-Formal Education section which has students who have not had the opportunity to attend formal school, he became a teachers’ pet in no time. He paid full attention to instructions and other classroom activities. He also took his home assignments seriously and painstakingly completed them. As the lessons progressed, the teachers noted that he was becoming more responsible and proactive. What he learnt he taught other children to learn and emulate too. Many habits related to health, hygiene and sanitation were thus adopted by him first and then by a retinue of his followers.
Sukarya wishes to expand its outreach in urban slums helping children realise their potential. Your generous contribution would reach many more Habeebuls.
Ajji, a five year-old girl lives in Delhi’s Tarachand slum colony. She is a regular attendee at Sukarya’s Education on Wheels (EOW) school. Bubbly and always with a smile on her face, it is hard to tell she has to shoulder heavy domestic burden. In class she is alert and sensitive to others’ needs. Everyone is happy to extend a helping hand to her. One day, she told the EOW Counsellor that girls are far more loving and responsible than boys. She shared that while she and her sister helped their mother at home, her brother neither contributed to house work nor did her parents ask him to. This was a disturbing fact for Ajji. She admitted this as a reason why she loved her sisters more than her brother. It pained her to see boys in the neighbourhood forcing their mothers to give them money and going and spending it on alcohol, cigarettes and wayward lifestyles. She wants to be a teacher and change these negative practices. The EOW has given her a chance to study and learn more about the world and she knows that one day she too will be able to change the lives of many young people.
Pursuing cricketing aspirations along with studies : Basheer’s story
When the Education on Wheels project team explored one of the odd slums located in Sector 57, Gurugram, there were many out-of-school children who had their own different aspirations. Their dreams ranged from becoming a teacher to a doctor, scientist and dancer. Basheer was very clear he wanted to turn his hobby of playing cricket into a profession and scale heights of success like his idol, MS Dhoni.
When his family moved from West Bengal to Gurugram in hope of a better livelihood, he had to discontinue his studies and help his parents in eking out a living.
The Remedial classes as part of the EOW progamme came as a blessing giving a drop-out student like him a chance to catch up on studies. Observing his sharp aesthetic sense and keen interest, the teachers motivated him to be regular and to get good grades in exams. They also engaged him to participate in extracurricular activities. They guided him on his cricket coaching and told him to pursue his passion seriously but also to continue with studies and give them equal priority. He is extremely grateful to Sukarya for providing direction and tools to plan his future. He soon joined a Cricket Academy and began to play local matches. Meanwhile, he was also doing well in studies. He was referred to as the boy with a golden smile.
He is now ready to appear for the 5th grade Open Basic Education examination being conducted by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). He says with a twinkle in his eye, “from a rolling stone I am on way to becoming a chiselled diamond.”
Shedding baggage of the past and embracing goals for the future: Kajri’s story
Kajri is a 10-year old girl who migrated with her family from Punjab and had no choice but to discontinue schooling. When she came to Delhi, her family started living in Nalapar slums. Owing to the distance of the nearest school from their hutment, she was unable to take admission. She joined few other children and started picking waste from nearby areas along with her mother. This fetched them some income at the end of the day with which they bought vegetables to cook their meals.
One day, she heard children talking excitedly about the ‘Education on Wheels’ bus. She was fascinated and wanted to know more. She found out where the bus would arrive and went and sat outside watching all the movement and action. When she spoke to her mother about it and told her she wanted to study so that she could grow up and earn for the family, her mother became emotional and told her to enroll without losing time.
Kajri was admitted in the Remedial section of the EOW programme. Due to hygiene issues she used to fall ill often and was irregular in attending classes. Her behaviour toward her peers was also not consistent. She was always using curse words and would sometimes get physical with her classmates. Her behaviour was observed by the teachers and the Project Coordinator counselled her. Having spent many years in an unstructured environment where street fights and curse words were the norm, she had subconsciously adopted these and to her they were not an aberration or sign of abnormal behaviour.
But with each passing day, being in the company of other children and sensitive teachers/counsellors she became calmer and less prone to being reactive and abusive. A movie screening was organised for all children. It was based on a child who struggles to receive an education and harbours the dream of becoming President of India. After the movie, the teacher asked every student about their dreams and learnt that Kajri aspires to become a police officer. The teacher told her that a police officer needs to be mentally and physically fit and that, a good police officer neither abuses nor loses his/her temper easily. So, it was important for her to take care of her health and concentrate on studies.
With such motivating insights and conversations, the EOW team helped Kajri develop the right attitude. She has now been selected for entering the 5th standard and is preparing for the Open Basic Education (OBE) exam.
Sterling qualities of pride and self respect: Hasan’s story
Hasan, is without doubt a rising star. He lives with his parents and younger sister in one of the sprawling urban slums of Gurgaon. He is an alert and attentive boy and his curious and eager temperament make the class more interesting. He and his family migrated from the outskirts of Bengal to the Saraswati Kunj slums of Gurgaon, three years ago. When the Sukarya team first saw him, he was sifting materials from a heap of garbage. When they asked him if he wanted to study in their school, his answer surprised them. He quizzed, “Ma'am will you charge?” When we said no, it was a free service, he replied promptly, “In that case, I will study in your school and I will return the favour by teaching you Bengali”. The team had never met a child like this who was so self respecting. Indeed, he did end up teaching several of the team members basic Bengali. Hasan is now a popular student of EOW. After learning not only the basics of elementary education but also character building lessons, a significant change was noticed in the nature of his deeds. We were very delighted to hear his words, “Ma’am I know I pick rags, so when I come to class, I change my clothes and come. My class is like a temple for me”. The boy, full of and dreams and zest is not only studying to improve his life but playing the role of an agent of social change and motivating others to study.
Renewed hope & revived destiny: Anjali’s story
Anjali lives in Rangpuri slum pocket in Delhi with her parents and three siblings. The family hails from Bihar and migrated to Delhi in search of better livelihood options. Earlier, she could not go to school due to multiple reasons – distance, low family income and looking after younger siblings and home while parents were out for work.
In spite of all challenges, Anjali was keen to continue her education. The EOW team met her family and motivated them to enroll her in the Remedial Class. “We understand the predicament and challenge of girls like Anjali who find it hard to make time to attend classes. We provide all support and encouragement but then the final decision is of the girl and her parents who must allow her to come to EOW class,””, says, Nasim Ahamad, looking after Field Operations for Sukarya.
Anjali started attending classes without delay. The team was in touch with her mother and reiterated the importance of education through regular home visits. The mother was requested to support her by allowing her time to finish her homework. Within a few months, everyone started taking pride in Anjali’s good grades and feedback from teachers. They were happy she was getting a chance to study and hoped she would ensure her younger siblings also got a formal education.
“I never believed I could ever restart my studies, The EOW bus parked near my slum has brought such joy to me and my family. I will not let anyone down. I will make the most of this opportunity and make my family proud.”, shared Anjali.
Living the impossible dream and taking along 102 others: Rahul’s story
Rahul is a nine-year old who lives in the slums of Delhi, India’s capital city. He looks out to the towering buildings around him that house people with big cars and pots of money. He often imagines playing with their children. He also wonders why education should be the sole preserve of the rich and famous. Why can’t children like him, living in slums, with one or two sets of clothes, be able to go to school and grow up to be rich.
He loves looking at magazines that he finds in garbage heaps and spends hours looking at photos and trying to self read. He listens to television and radio in the neighbourhood to see and understand more about the world around him. His parents sense his craving to read and write and feel bad that they cannot send him to school.
A ray of hope appeared in the form of EOW, when Sukarya teachers witnessed the shining eyes gazing from a distance at the bus that held classes for slum kids. A few meetings were enough to convince the teachers of Rahul’s earnest desire for education. They were quick to act and schedule a visit to meet the teacher who was part of their project. The team found Rahul sharp and decided to enroll him. He turned out to be the brightest spark in class and he also began to teach his siblings at home.
Subsequently, Rahul along with 102 other slum children prepared for the Open Basic Examination that is conducted by the Government of India. All of them passed the exam and secured admission in the local government school in classes IV to VII. This was a major achievement for the teachers, students and parents.