U.K. Registered Charity 1084436
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Aseema is a well established charity which has been providing education for children from the streets and slums of Mumbai (Bombay) and campaigning for children's rights for the past eleven years. So far, its main project has been to run a Centre for Street Children. This Centre currently has nearly 100 children between the ages of three and fifteen enrolled, with the younger ones participating in the first Montessori for street children in India. The Centre aims to prepare street and slum children for entry into private and municipal formal schools, to provide on-going support (via, for example, homework classes) to those already in the formal school system so that they do not drop out of school and to nurture an enthusiasm for learning amongst those children who cannot avail of the formal school system.
In an effort to improve the standard of work and attract more children, Aseema has also 'adopted' a local secondary school (the Pali-Chimbai Municipal School) which is rather run down and serves a very poor community. In addition, Aseema provides one meal per day to all of the children and a volunteer doctor visits the centre regularly to provide healthcare.
Art classes are among the range of activities pursued by children at the Centre. As part of its fundraising efforts, Aseema produces greetings cards and other products which are based on the children's designs. The greetings cards are sold at Vidya events.
Staffing and running costs are already covered for the classes at Aseema's Centre for Street Children. Unfortunately, attendance of children at both the Centre and the Pali-Chimbai Municipal School is erratic and problematic. Some do not even enrol and many drop out. To address this problem and enhance the education of these children, The Vidya Trust has supported the cost of an educational welfare/social worker (Ashok Pawar) for six years. We are currently raising funds so that this may be extended for at least another year.
The primary function of this worker is to act as a link between the children's parents and the local community on the one hand and the teachers at both Aseema's Centre and the Municipal School on the other. As part of his duties, he also prepares detailed case studies of all the children and follows up with families whose children only attend the Centre or Municipal School erratically to see if there are any particular problems or issues that need addressing. By interacting with the local community, we hope that he can persuade parents of the importance of education for their children. In this respect, one of his main aims is to identify potential new entrants for admission to both the Centre and the Municipal School. For a full job description, please click here.
In the long run, we hope that the continuing employment of an educational social worker will help to achieve better and more sustained attendance of street and slum children at both the Centre and the Municipal School. By enabling these children to gain better access to education, this approach will help to increase their literacy and overall educational development. Moreover, once enrolment increases, the municipal authority would be required to enhance and improve general educational provision. Therefore, this innovative approach will help to secure the education of some of the most disadvantaged children in India.
Vidya would like to partially fund the costs of an educational social worker for at least a further year but needs to raise another £1,300 to enable this to happen. Apart from providing funding, the main role of Vidya is to ensure that clear aims and targets are set and that value for money is obtained. The work is currently being monitored via the submission of regular in-depth reports to a specified schedule. In addition, a Vidya trustee visted in early 2007 to offer support and suggestions for improvement. This approach of regular reports, underpinned by first-hand visits, should continue to ensure rigorous and continuous evaluation. Vidya is very well positioned to be able to offer systematic and professional scrutiny, since many of its supporters (including two of its trustees) are current or former HM Inspectors of Schools in England.
2. Funding of Equipment and Furniture
The quality of education at Aseema is also limited by a lack of equipment (e.g. educational material, teaching aids) and furniture. At present, we are looking for funding of £1,100 for equipment and £600 for furniture. If you would like to buy or make a donation towards a specific item, please contact us and we will be happy to provide further details of exactly what is required and the associated costs.
If you would like to contribute towards either of these projects, please print and complete the donation form or contact us. All contributors will receive an annual newsletter updating them about progress made on these projects. This newsletter will also be published on the website. If you have any questions, please contact us.
For information about other ways in which you can help Vidya, please click here.
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