“A nation is advanced in proportion as education and intelligence spread among the masses. If we are to rise again, we shall have to… spread education among the masses,” – Swami Vivekananda
November 11 is celebrated as National Education Day every year to mark the birth anniversary of independent India’s first Education Minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who was in charge from 1947 till his death in 1958.
Education for all is a must. However, in the present scenario, quality education has become a costly affair, which is not within the reach of people from all strata of the society in India. Thinking about this, Bengaluru-based NGO REWA (Raise Empower Women Around) has started a free of cost preschool for children coming from underprivileged sections of the society.
On National Education Day, Abhishek Saran, Founder, REWA opened up to The CSR Journal talking about their preschool ‘Ujjwal’.
Ujjwal, free preschool for underprivileged children
In March 2020, Ujjwal, a preschool for underprivileged children began its journey.
“At the age of 2-2.5 years, our children go to play schools for basic education. Till the age of 6 years, our brain develops. After that, they go for mainstream education. But, what about the underprivileged who don’t have money to spend on a preschool for their children? Nowadays in India, education is very costly. People from this section of the society are equally eager to educate their children, and it becomes a lot more convenient for them if that education comes free of cost. With this thought, we started this preschool school at Bengaluru’s J P Nagar area for children of construction workers, drivers, domestic helps and whoever comes under the BPL (Below Poverty Line) section,” Abhishek told The CSR Journal.
Fresh start after Covid-19 pandemic
“After starting the school, we got 40 admissions within three days. However, a couple of weeks later, the lockdown happened and we had to switch to online mode of education. After two years, we have gathered some funds and this year, we have again resumed the offline Ujjwal School in November. This is now located at our own building in J P Nagar,” informed the REWA Founder.
“We have students from the age group of 2-6 years. Bengaluru’s preschool Touchstone is our academic partner. Right now, we have 25 students, even though we have the space accommodate around 45 children. Since, this is a mid-session time, we are expecting more enrolments around February when the new session starts,” Abhishek expressed.
Activities at Ujjwal preschool
“Whatever facility any organized playschool gives to privileged class children, we are giving the same facility free of cost to our children. Learning activities, motor skill development activities, what is good what is bad, all these are taught to the children over here. Our curriculum is based on the Montessori model. We focus more on skill training for these children. For example, a child whose father is a plumber by profession, is taught what exactly kind of work his/her father does, so that they understand their parents better,” the social worker shared.
“The medium of instruction is primarily Kannada, but the children are also taught English. The school runs from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm. Over here, the students are provided with uniform and stationery and books free of cost,” he informed.
Inviting CSR funding
“We need more support, especially CSR support. If companies are willing to associate with us, fund our project, it would be a great help. We have started approaching corporates for help, have also shared our proposals with some of them over e-mail but still waiting to get a positive response. We have all the necessary certificates, so that will not be an obstacle for any individual or corporate offering to fund us,” assured the NGO founder.
Securing further education of students
However, REWA is not only stopping at giving preschool lessons to the underprivileged children. They have also tied up with some private schools in the city which will offer education to children from Ujjwal preschool at a very nominal cost.
“Being a preschool, we can teach the children till a certain age. What after that? So, we have tied up with a few private schools in Bengaluru, which are willing to admit these students (if their parents apply for admission) at a very minimal cost. We also have plans to elevate Ujjwal to a high school but we need funds and support for doing that,” he shared.
Message on National Education Day
Abhishek signed off with a message on National Education Day, “I would urge everyone to come forward and sponsor the education of at least one child. If you cannot trust any NGO for donation, at least sponsor the education of one child in your surroundings. It can be the child of your domestic help, electrician, watchman, driver or plumber so that you can keep a track of their progress even on a daily basis. It is said, charity begins at home, so just start from home. Start this today and you will contribute in making a huge difference in the coming years. These children are very bright. If channelised in the right direction and given the right opportunity, they can go far.”