Government schools often have low education outcomes because of the poor quality of schooling they provide. So Anuradha Mini started a remedial school for government school kids in her neighbourhood, to help them achieve better marks and remain interested in school. Hamari Kaksha, which was started in a backyard with just 17 kids, today has five branches across Chandigarh.
Anuradha Mini, the woman behind Hamari Kaksha, started the initiative when she saw many school kids hanging around in her neighbourhood during the daytime in their uniforms.
“The area where I used to live had many government schools nearby. I would frequently see the kids wandering during the school hours. They would skip school every day and even their parents were not concerned,” she recalls.
So she started a small school in her backyard, with 17 children of maids and daily wagers who were either not going to school, were poor performers or irregular students of government schools.
As more students started joining Hamari Kaksha, Anuradha officially registered the organization in 2007 and also managed to get the government to give her a small place from where she could run her school.
“It’s not like regular school. We offer remedial classes that provide basic learning and teach some life skills related to health and hygiene. But it increases the confidence of the kids,” says Anuradha.
The USP of the school is that it focuses on a child’s learning level and not the class he or she is in.
“In government schools it is mandatory to pass every student till Class 5. But many students don’t even know basic writing and maths by then. So we teach them as per their learning level. After Class 5, we go as per the regular school curriculum otherwise the kids will really lag behind,” she says.
Anuradha’s intervention has yielded results not only in the form of improved learning levels of students but also in the change in the attitude of parents.
“Parents are the biggest influence on the kids. With regular counselling, mothers have started understanding the importance of education. Convincing the fathers though is still an issue,” she says.
“There has been a huge impact on both the kids and their families. Seventy percent of our kids have shown a remarkable improvement in their studies. Dropout rates have decreased and they have become more outspoken and confident,” she says.
Some of the children from Hamari Kaksha developed such good communication skills that they even managed to get jobs in the IT and retail industries. A few of them have come back to the school as teachers.
“Today, we have 21 teachers who work extremely hard and also help spread awareness about sensitive issues like child sexual abuse. While adolescent girls are regularly counselled about menstruation, boys are cautioned against eve teasing. To go a step further, girls are also taught self defence techniques,” says Anuradha.
In fact, Hamari Kaksha’s work goes much beyond the four walls of school and touches the lives of the students’ parents too.
“Parents are made aware of the legal repercussions of child marriage and encouraged to educate their children at least till the age of 18. Girls are given incentives to finish their secondary education,” she says.
Around 40 illiterate mothers come to Hamari Kaksha’s branches to learn basic reading and writing skills. Food and nutrition experts are also called in to give them lectures on healthy diets and eating habits.
In the future, Anuradha wants to expand her area of work and reach out to more students. She also wants to start vocational training courses to enable the students to get better jobs.
“We also want to work with more mothers and enable them to become self-dependent. But all of this will be possible only if we get enough financial support,” she says.
If you would like to be part of the change, you can volunteer at Hamari Kaksha, teach the kids, and spend time with them. You can also extend financial support by sponsoring a child.
Check out the organisation’s website.