Twenty one year old Amol Pashilkar attempted his SSC examination in the year 2004-05. Unfortunately, he could not clear his examinations; he passed only in English. Since his confidence levels suffered a blow, he found it very difficult to reappear. After a four year long gap, in 2009, he took admission in Milind Night High School. With his renewed focus, could he clear the examinations?
Amol got 74% in his SSC. How did this drastic improvement come about? Amol could leap forward in academics because of the extra classes conducted by a Maharashtra based social organization that goes by the name Masoom. Masoom works with night schools in Mumbai, with the aim of improving academic performance of night school students.
Masoom is the first organization in Maharashtra to run a comprehensive intervention program for night schools. Masoom offers a unique approach to planning and implementing a comprehensive program for night schools based on their different needs. Masoom’s strategy for sustainable change is to work in the spirit of partnership with all major stakeholders in the education system. Because of Masoom, many like Amol could complete their education. Their interest in studies increases tremendously.
Tracing the beginnings
Nikita Ketkar, the founder of Masoom, stumbled upon the idea of helping night schools back in 2001. She was working in the civil services and was appointed on a project to identify child domestic workers, in the night school of Mumbai. Nikita adds, “I came across students who were largely self-motivated. They worked during the day and would attend classes in the evening. Nobody was forcing them to school. They came because they wanted to learn. It was sad to see that justice wasn’t being delivered to their aspirations.”
In 2006, Nikita further undertook research related to problems faced by night school students, under the Pukar Scholarship. Based on the findings, she decided to do something about these issues. She resigned from office and founded Masoom in 2008, her entire research team by her side. To facilitate learning for night school students, Masoom has developed a three pronged approach:
1. Providing Infrastructure such as computers, Science laboratory apparatus, mathematic kits, library books, notebooks, educational charts, workbooks and worksheets, teacher training material, Braille textbooks and audio-visual material
2. Capacity Building by organizing training sessions and workshops for teachers, parents and students, vocational guidance for students, counseling, extra curricular classes such as Life skills, yoga, meditation
3. Advocacy: Masoom works closely with all stakeholders and intend to act as an advocate for all issues concerning night schools
Since night schools are run from 6:30 to 9:30 in the evening, most of these kids come after long hours of work. By providing meals, Masoom ensures that they can study more efficiently. Nikita adds, “We want to build not just academic strength but also employability. Many students who earlier had to study with an empty stomach could not focus. Now we provide meals. The kids call it ‘nashta’ as sometimes it is the only meal they have in the day.”
In its own unique way, Masoom has touched the lives of many students, growing from just two schools to now ten. There are courses called the ‘bridge courses’ that help drop outs overcome gaps and at the same time, there is facility of psycho counseling for students with learning disabilities. They also help link students to government certified computer courses, for which they have initiated scholarships for part funding. With such personal care and concern for holistic development, there are bound to be many many success stories like Amol’s.
Visit Masoom’s website here: http://masoomforu.org/