|State Of Night Schools In Mumbai Unearths Serious Gaps|
|News - India|
|Written by Mediabharti Syndication Service|
|Wednesday, 17 June 2009|
Chennai (India): If the movie Slumdog Millionaire moved many of us globally and in India to the plight and aspirations of socio-economically marginalized children of Mumbai, equally heart rending stories are being played out daily in the 150 odd night schools of Mumbai. The challenges are tough and need real solutions. The children and youth in night schools, an often invisible population, work during the day and are among India's poorest. More than 20,000 youth between the ages of 15 and 25 study in the 200 plus night schools in Maharashtra. Over the years, little priority has been placed on improving the quality and infrastructure of these schools.
At a meeting with the media in the city, Masoom presented some highlights from its study on night schools in Mumbai making a strong case for immediate focus and investment. The Global Fund for Children (GFC) is the first international grant making organization to support Masoom to strengthen its intervention programs to facilitate opportunities for the holistic development of the night schools.
“Founded on a vision that all children have a right to learn right, Masoom’s innovative night school program is reaching to 200 at-risk youth. The Global Fund for Children is proud to support the creative and well researched approach of its founder Nikita Ketkar, who has spent a year through a fellowship in assessing the educational needs of night-school students. GFC isparticularly keen to partner with Masoom to support a holistic development of the night schools by incorporating Sports, English conversation, vocational guidance and counselling into its curriculum,” said Dr. Vineeta Gupta, Program Officer, South Asia, The Global Fund for Children.
According to Nikita Ketkar, Founder, Masoom, “We did the study to learn and understand the extent of the issues facing the night schools so that we can go about addressing them in a planned manner. What it revealed is an eye opener to even those working in the field and it is amply clear that it is miles to go before people concerned about this issue can sleep. We have evolved a three pronged strategy out of our own experience and what we learnt from the study– Improve education infrastructure and inputs at the night schools; improve teacher quality through teacher training and work at city and state level to bring about policy level change. We are thankful for GFC’s support in our mission.” “We are convinced the strategy will yield dividends and inspiring success stories as result of real solutions to these tough situations will bloom out of the night schools sooner or later. Besides the positive social impact of these children taking their families out of the circle they live in and becoming a part of a confident and successful India,” she further added, Ram Chaudhary a visually challenged 10th grade student of Maratha Mandir Night School and Komal Jadhav a 9th grade student of Milind Night High School were also present on the occasion. Their stories reinforced the determination and potential these children have and the positive social impact they will make if given the right opportunities and tools at the night schools.
Ram Chaudhary awaiting his results spoke of the challenges he faced and his ambition to become a teacher. He shared the difference in the night school after Masoom’s interventions. He particularly appreciated the exposure visit and the nutrition program organized for the students. Komal Jadhav felt that the English conversation classes had a good impact on her personality; her ambition in life is to become a police officer.
In his comments, BS Thorat, Headmaster, Milind Night High School shared the problems faced by night schools like the one he manages. He spoke about what is needed to be done on the ground and appreciated the work done by Masoom and offered to continue his support.
Masoom has done two pilot schools with the support of EdelGive Foundation and UnLtd India. The pilot program has made a visible difference in a short period of 6 months.
Masoom now plans to adopt 4 more schools this academic year (2009-2010) and by 2020 plans to adopt night schools not only in Mumbai but across Maharashtra. The organization is confident that it’s three pronged approach and the emphasis on holistic education on par in quality with what the day schools provide will be a tipping point that will provide many of these children, the wings they need to realize their dreams.
Key highlights from the study carried out by Nikita Ketkar and her team across the 150 Mumbai night schools are:
* Most of them work as class IV employees or help their parents in their small shops/businesses
* 72% in the age group of 16-20 years– much higher compared to the normal age group in secondary school
* Older children easily get attracted to unhealthy habits like gutka, tobacco, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.
* Near absence of science labs means their first exposure to labs is few hours prior to practical exams of 10 std.
* Very limited or no access to computers; no braille teachers for the visually challenged students.
* Run by century old-trusts many of which are not active
* Most of them being secondary schools are not totally covered by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan;
* Mid-day meal schemes are not extended to night schools (it needs to be)
* SSC Night school pass percentage on an average is 30%
* The mediums are diverse ranging from Marathi, Hindi, English, Gujrathi, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil to Urdu
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