The life of the children growing up in slums is not easy. They face a challenge every day, especially due to the physical environment of the slums. Lack of proper sanitation, lack of safe drinking water, shortage of space, shabby and congested houses, with no system for garbage collection are just some of the problems they face.
They either get involved in sharing duties with their family members or just do nothing. And the worst part is that they are stuck in a vicious circle which starts from poverty, resulting in illiteracy and then ends back in poverty.
This lack of education results in them not knowing their rights and social responsibilities and also not sending their children to a school. This continues for generations till someone breaks the cycle.
These children are forced to beg on the streets, pick rags, and even forced into child labour.
The same is the case for the slum children in Jaipur. Though there are many government initiatives and NGOs, they couldn’t reach many children. But amidst this, the children found a ray of hope in Sumeeti Mittal.
Sumeeti is the Founder and Trustee of Pratham Shiksha, a Jaipur-based charitable organisation which was set up with the aim to promote basic education for underprivileged children residing in the slums of Jaipur. The realisation to work for kids came when she was travelling abroad. She saw that in developed countries, underprivileged children have access to at least basic education, unlike in India. This inspired her to come back and start working towards this cause.
Pratham Shiksha- A journey to change thousands of lives
Started in a small garage in 2005, today, Pratham Shiksha has evolved to provide education for children up to 8th standard and comprises of seven classrooms. Along with conveyance facilities to students, it offers various other amenities like any other school. Sumeeti aspires to upgrade the school up to 10th grade, expanding the student base. And, the biggest achievement of Pratham Shiksha is that till date, more than 5000 children have been provided with an education
Initiatives By Pratham Shiksha
Sumeeti believes in the overall development of the students. Hence, the school offers many things to its students besides basic education, like
- Vocational training in plumbing, stitching, etc. to boys and girls so that they become self-dependent and are able to earn their livelihood.
- Collaboration with a few private hospitals to impart certified nursing training to the students, making them eligible for nursing jobs and helping them live a better and healthy lifestyle.
- Parent-teacher meets
- The school saves rent on annual function dresses by getting them stitched by the students’ mothers. This also gives the women an opportunity to earn.
- Kids of peons employed within Pratham Shiksha are given monetary support by Pratham Software
- Day boarding facility so that the students finish all the work during school hours.
- For female students, a vending machine for sanitary napkins is installed. Their female relatives too can avail this facility.
- CCTV cameras are installed in the campus
- Every Saturday, mock sessions are conducted in which every child gets a chance to speak in front of the teachers and students which helps boost their confidence.
Also, teachers keep a regular check on every student’s performance and attendance to ensure the students are not lacking anywhere.
Initiative to reduce the number of dropouts
Sumeeti also noticed that the number of students dropping out of school is very high. Considering the situation of the slum children for whom earning money is more important than classes in many cases, she decided to introduce flexible timings for the students. This step has opened doors for children who wanted to study and earn money at the same time.
She wants to reach out to as many children as she can and hopes other people also join her.
The Logical Indian appreciates Sumeeti and hopes that more and more children are benefitted from her programmes and organisation.