The clock strikes 6 pm. Most of us will pick our bags, lunch boxes and almost in flurry run out of office. The ones who still can’t call it a day at work, will take a short break from their busy work schedule. But parallel to all these scenes, there is a very different scenario taking place. Whilst we will looking forward to going back home after a busy day, fifteen year old Sunita still has a long evening ahead of her. She too has completed a hard day’s work, but instead of resting she is heading to school so she can fulfill her dreams to become a teacher. There are over 20,000 young people like Sunita who work during the day as waiters, couriers and domestic helpers and then study at night in Maharashtra. These students attend Night Schools with a dream in their eyes; a dream of a brighter future. These young adults are self-driven, enthusiastic and committed to learning, as they know this is their route to better standard of living.
Masoom is a not for profit organization that works with the night school students to work on the academics and provide better career opportunities to them. Masoom’s founder, Nikita Ketkar conducted a social research project examining the conditions of the night schools in Mumbai. The report named “To Understand Educational Needs of Night School Students and Developing Methods to Overcome Them” was completed in 2007, and it was concluded that night schools were failing to meet student expectations and were unable to tap their potential.
In 2008, Nikita established Masoom, an NGO that addresses the need for infrastructure and quality education for night schools, with the intention of improving the learning environment and the future prospects of the night school students. Masoom’ was established with a passion for effecting impactful interventions in the night schools of Mumbai. Masoom is currently the only organization which has developed a program to cater to the needs of night school students. With its vision of helping youth ‘learn while they earn’, Masoom aims to enable night school students reach their full potential through educational and policy support. Masoom addresses a need that is currently not being addressed, for a section of society that is overlooked by sources of Government aid and policy makers. We believe that with the right inputs and support, these self-motivated students can turn their lives around, and we dream that someday soon, they will be extended support from the authorities as well. The students of Mumbai’s night nurture an ambition to complete their education, which is what brings them to these night schools. However, the poor infrastructure, lack of proper teaching staff and absence of any Government support prove to be major impediments to their progress. Over the years, the intervention model of Masoom has changed from being one of a provider, to that of an enabler. Masoom provides access to critical educational infrastructure and resources. This includes basic amenities such as nutrition (evening meals), notebooks, workbooks and worksheets for the kids, to facilities such as science laboratory apparatus, mathematic kits, library books educational charts, computers, teacher training material and audio-visual material such as TVs, DVDs and academic CDs. Some of the schools that have blind students, we also provide Braille learning tools, Braille textbooks, watches, etc. Masoom works closely with various stakeholders in the school like the Trustees, Head Masters (HMs), teachers, Students, Parents and Non-teaching staff. Masoom organizes training sessions and workshops for teachers, parents and students. The organization takes initiatives to bring about policy level changes in favour of Night Schools. Masoom is aiming at raising awareness and advocating amongst the public and key decision-makers about the urgent need of policy level changes to be made and implemented. Masoom currently works with 30 Night Schools in Mumbai with a plan to reach out to all the 210 schools by 2020. Milestones achieved
Success Story of Anuradha Chauhan STD.: 10th Agarkar Night School Anuradha has had a hard life: She married in 2005, but was widowed within one year of her marriage. By then she had a new-born baby to care for, she moved back to her parental home. Her parents’ house is a small room in a slum in Worli, which accommodates 9 family members. To supplement the family income, Anuradha took up work as a house maid. One day she happened to meet Mr.Patil, headmaster of Agarkar Night School, who sensed that Anuradha was gifted, and motivated her to enroll at his night school and continue her education. Although there would be times she arrived late to class after being held up with her housemaid work, the teachers at Agarkar Night School were understanding and accommodating. Anuradha exceeded all expectations this year when she achieved an outstanding 91% in her SSC exam. She is the first student from Masoom-supported night schools to ever appear on the SSC Merit List. “I really appreciate the kind of support I received during my SSC preparation,” she says, “The extra classes, reference guides and study notes provided by Masoom were invaluable to me. The Masoom Team members really motivated me and I got the confidence to do my best.” Anuradha is now on the course of a bright future. She has taken admission to Agarkar Night Junior College in the Commerce stream.
– By Nikita Ketkar, Founder, CEO A postgraduate in Political Sciences from Mumbai University. Nikita has an exciting and varied background, she has worked as a Journalist, a lecturer and a social worker before qualifying for the Indian Civil Services. Nikita was involved in research into the educational challenges faced by night school students. The research was carried out along with the night college students. http://www.masoomeducation.org / http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KMTR2vW1Qc