Our Evolution as an organization
Purna Shiksha originated from a conversation between two perfect strangers. It happened on the 21st August 2014. One of the founding members of Purna Shiksha was on his usual bi-cycle ride in the night at around 23.30 near Shila-Bypass in Rohtak (a city in Haryana, India). He met a man riding a tricycle at that odd hour and started talking to this man (who called himself Sonu). This led to the beginning of a new world of unparalleled happiness for the whole team of PurnaShiksha.
Having heard of the misery of child labourers, Purna Shiksha member asked Sonu “Can I offer to teach these children? Will they be willing to learn from me?” Sonu did not have a definite answer. Instead he said, “Please come and meet our contractor”. He then bade good-bye.
Purna Shiksha member had a job as a professor at Indian Institute of Management Rohtak. As he already had a handful of work in his hands, he was not sure of what he could do. Next morning (i.e. on 22nd August) he kept asking several questions to himself. Should he jump into this problem and solve it? Should he continue to focus on his present work and let others solve grander
problems such as child labour, and illiteracy? Who those others would be? If he gets involved in a work like this, would he be compromising on his present academician’s job? And so on…
At that juncture, no matter what his mind suggested, our Purna Shiksha member made his mind to become a teacher for those rag-picking children. He went down to Kabir Colony and spoke to the contractor who looked after rag picking community. Nobody openly opposed the idea of teaching & learning. Everyone looked happy and convinced. Our Purna Shiksha member and his student volunteers from IIM Rohtak had set up an open field school on the 23rd August 2014. On the very first day, they had an overwhelming number of sixty-five children in the school. Using minimal resources, mainly a stand, a black board, and a set of slates, the team had set up what was soon going to be known as Purna Shiksha. In the following picture, you can see Purna Shiksha’s first school. This is where the team Purna Shiksha continued the school till November 2014 before moving into a rented place in Kabir Colony.
Our First day school in open ground at Kabir Colony
From its beginning Purna Shiksha has been a fascinating journey for the founders and tens of volunteers who contributed in many ways in conducting classes every day between 16 hours and 19 hours (Five days a week – Monday-to-Friday) at multiple locations within Rohtak (Kabir Colony, behind film institute, Railway line near Shila By-pass, and Suneria Village). The earliest makeshift school is in Kabir Colony.
In the following photos you will get brief glimpses into the ragpicking communities where our large chunk of children reside.
A typical rag picker’s house in Kabir Colony Rag picker’s settlement
Our classes at Railway Colony near Shila-by-Pass Our Classes at Suneria village
Our Classes at Suneria village
Our struggles and experiments with different Models
Model 1: Prepare children to join mainstream government schools
Several volunteers of Purna Shiksha including students of IIM Rohtak, academicians and social workers engaged in this initiative to convince ragpickers and their children to join mainstream government schools. In the pictures below, we have highlighted a few of our initial engagements with rag pickers’ community and schools.
Consultation with parents and children of Suneria Village A week later children awaiting school admission
Railway line children getting ready to walk to school
In an attempt to compliment all these efforts, on 16th April 2015, three professors of IIM Rohtak and a few experts from varied fields, such as – filmmaking, social service and teaching conducted a workshop for all government schoolteachers of Rohtak. This workshop was sponsored by Abha Mission for Social Health and Education (an Indian NGO). There was an overwhelming participation of over eighty teachers from primary and secondary schools. This helped in sensitizing schoolteachers on the benefits of inclusive education.
Model 2: Give children the taste of schooling
For Team Purna Shiksha and ECIS, it was a happy time. However, this happy time did not last long. Just about a week later, children started skipping school. On the one hand, teachers made repeated calls and complained that Purna Shiksha’s children did not turn up to school, on the other hand, children expressed very little interest to continue with their schooling because they did not enjoy the process of formal schooling. Team Purna Shiksha and ECIS came up with an alternative model to push the dream forward.
This is where we were forced to reinvent a new model. We were convinced that a new experiment of imparting education using less formal and more creative pedagogy is the way to address the challenges of school dropout and illiteracy among poor and marginalized children.
Kabir Colony children with uniform
However, these children have become the ambassadors of change by spreading a message on the need of education among people from their community.
Model 3: Develop an alternative education model
At the end, our sole purpose is to enable every child to speak, read and write in both Hindi and English. We hope that once a child learns these three most important skills (speak, read and write), he or she will be able to live a better life than before.
Our goal of empowering children will be achieved when they choose to lead an honorable life and earn a decent living.
PurnaShiksha aspires to provide a learning space for every child who does not get an opportunity in mainstream school. .
So far, we have been working with those children who have been migratory in nature due to their parent’s profession. As far as our experience goes, a child stays in one place for minimum of three months to maximum of two years. Within this period, they shift locations within a city, more often quite far from Purna Shiksha’s Schools. More so, they also move back to their ‘home-towns’. So far, in Kabir Colony School, out of 65 children, only three have stayed for more than two years.
For majority of children, it is about maximum of two years. Therefore, we have prepared ourselves for the first two years of learning process. As a curriculum, the attempt is not to introduce something, all of a sudden new. Instead, we strive towards building on what is already known to children. We are a dedicated group of people with minimal resources.
We need your generous help in order to continue to educate all those children who miss out a learning opportunity for various economic and social reasons.
In a nutshell, we are an evolving organization with a mission to educate children especially those who do not have access to education. Come and join hands with us. Let us build a better future for millions of children.