We Care For Everyone
"Money cannot eradicate poverty, only education can.”
Nothing can be closer to truth than this. Funding alone cannot help people escape poverty. In the light of this argument, education becomes an important means to end poverty and bring not just an individual or a family, but future generations out of the poverty trap. Guided by this, Bright Star Charitable Trust runs education programmes for students of Pre and Primary level in the state run schools of Western Mumbai. For the students of primary level, academics are the main focus of the educational programmes while for those at the pre-primary aim at building basic life-skills that help the children grow into confident and self-reliant individuals.
Besides these, Bright Star Charitable Trust also sponsors education of children of single mothers from economically disadvantaged background.
The students enrolled in these schools come from the neighbouring slum areas in Mumbai and belong to the poorest of the poor communities with parents engaged in low-income generating livelihood activities. Very often, it is not just the economic situation of the family but also their familial situations which are troubled. This, coupled with the lack of educational inputs from parents or extended family members, hinders their normal academic progress.
During our interactions with women from these communities, we assessed a need for educational inputs or assistance for their children. Further, it was learnt that lack of skills in English amongst these children, becomes a barrier towards higher learning and expressing their thoughts in writing.
To overcome these barriers, and promote a learning environment, Bright Star Charitable Trust started a programme on pilot basis in one of the slums of Mumbai. Under this, volunteers of Bright Star Charitable Trust conducted classes to mentor and help students from the slums during the post-school hours on all subjects. Since, lack of English skills was cited by students and women as a hindrance towards learning and growth, special focus was laid on it. Spoken English and grammar classes were conducted by volunteers in state-run schools, post-school hours, to provide learning support in the language.
Parallel, basic life-skills lessons such as maintaining personal hygiene, cleanliness of the surroundings, importance of nutritious diet and understanding of healthy food habits, along with social skills are imparted to children at pre-primary level.The play-way method is used to impart concepts so that the young minds enjoy the concepts as they absorb them.Another aspect of the educational programmes at this level is the nutrition programme that Bright Star Charitable Trust runs. Alongside educational inputs, Bright Star Charitable Trust provides nutritious meals to children to ensure optimum physical growth as, a healthy mind in a healthy body can achieve great heights.
The success of the pilot could be gauged from the marked difference in the performance of the students not just in English language but also in other related subjects. Another indirect impact the enhanced learning and grades had was on the self-confidence of the children. Teachers in these schools attested to not just the better learning and performance in exams but also a behavioural change in these children. Children are now more eager to learn and participate in the classroom environment which made it easier for the teachers to teach new concepts.
Children from the pre-primary level also showed a marked change in the way they conducted themselves. Women from the community reported the children showing an interest in food with greater independence and initiatives in everyday tasks.
What started as a pilot project in a community hall of a slum area in Mumbai has now been scaled up to 5 primary schools and across the slums in Mumbai.
We look forward to scale up our efforts beyond the 5 operational areas of Mumbai, and also look forward to include other subjects of the curriculum to offer greater learning and growth opportunities to students. We are open to collaboration with other NGOs and CSR partnerships to take this initiative to the next level.