Tuesday, July 22, 2008

From Idea to Action

Initially Naresh thought that, along with a few friends of his, his efforts will help in educating one or two children. He thought that the children that they are going to start with should be able to attain good quality education from an English medium school. Along side Symbiosis students would focus on all round personality development of children through evening classes. After completing their graduation, depending on their needs, the children could either go for higher education or can start working.
In January and February 2007, Naresh discussed his plans with the parents of slum children. The parents were not much educated themselves though they were very much aware of the importance of education for their children but could not afford to provide good quality education because of meager incomes that they had. After a few discussions, the parents developed their faith in Naresh’s plans; they agreed that they will let him plan the education of their children. If they have to move out of Pune due to any reasons, they agreed to put their children in hostels.
In the meanwhile, Naresh simultaneously visited five English medium schools in and around Hinjewadi, Pune. After a few meetings with the school authorities, Naresh finalized Smt Karmavati English Medium High School in Hinjewadi; because the school authorities were co-operative and understood the importance of providing education to all sections of the society. They mentioned that they’ll provide books and clothes to children for free as their contribution in the initiative. They agreed to give a discount in the fee that they charge and also would try to attract donations for this special group of slum children. The school has good teacher student ratio and other basic facilities. Moreover, it is at a walking distance from the place where the children stay.
Naresh thought that if he involves more people in his initiative, then more number of children can get quality education. So, he decided to make it a community based model. So, in March 2007, he presented the idea to his entire batch. He got a very encouraging response from his batch mates. They donated their clothes to slum children and their families. They also donated their books which were sold in second hand market for raising funds for the school fee.
This initiative was given the name “Prayatna – An Initiative for Social Change”. Prayatna, which is a word in Hindi and Marathi languages, means efforts. An Initiative for Social Change refers to the direction in which Naresh and his friends are making efforts to bring a change in society by providing quality education to underprivileged children.
In the academic session of 2007-08, nine children were admitted in the selected school. These children were in the age group of four to eight years. Out of these nine children, four had never attended any formal school and five were studying in first standard in a local municipal school. The education being imparted in such schools although helps students in getting degrees and diplomas but hardly makes them employable.

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