Posted by: greatfoundation | January 25, 2010

‘We want to achieve the aim of an educated India’

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world: Nelson Mandela

A group of three friends, Jaslene, Bhavya and Arthur, all working professionals, began Pehel, a volunteer initiative to teach underprivileged children in 2008.

The trio was inspired to start this initiative when they worked with the aged as part of their college’s NSS programme. But with college getting over their social contribution came to a standstill. But once they completed their formal education and were about to start working, the three met casually over a cup of coffee to celebrate their newly acquired jobs.

Nostalgia gripped the three friends and they began discussing the visits to the old age home and the activities they used to conduct. Suddenly all three of them blurted out in unison: ‘Why don’t we begin with something like teaching underprivileged children at a school or even our maid’s kids’. Thus began their voyage to set up Pehel under GREAT Foundation’s wing.

How is Pehel engaged in teaching underprivileged children and what is your programme?

Bhavya, Arthur and me began the Pehel initiative at GREAT Foundation (in 2008), an NGO in Pune that has adopted 6 cantonment board schools with approximately 6,000 students studying in these school. These kids belonging to the underprivileged background study in a Marathi medium school and do not have a very good concept of what they learn as the teachers are ill-equipped to improve these students’ competitiveness.

Pehel volunteers ensure that these kids do not face difficulties when they go to college. Poor English, mathematics and computer skills acts as a hindrance for these kids during their Class XII and graduation as the medium of study changes to English once they enter college. Since most of the competitive exams and courses require English and mathematics competency many of these students drop out of college and take on low-level jobs to sustain themselves. That was the reason why we decided to work on building their basic skills in English, mathematics and computer skills.

How many such children have you taught till now and what do these children do after they learn the language?

We began with around 120 such students in 2008. We help them prepare for competitive exams or job interviews in case they need to undertake a particular course or apply for a job. For example: Cafe Coffee Day recruits kids from underprivileged background above 18 years and pays between Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 on a monthly basis. This pay scale is better than other menial jobs where these kids are exploited and not paid well.

Your vision for India’s underprivileged children and what is Pehel doing to achieve that?

Across India, many children are unable to pursue studies due to lack of financial assistance, proper teaching, career counselling or guidance. It is not possible for the government to look into all these matters at once. So small NGOs or self-help groups such as ours are working hand in hand with the government and help ensure that the aim of an educated India is achieved.

We at Pehel are a small group of professionals, homemakers and students who are working towards helping these children improve their concepts, prepare for board exams, competitive exams, etc. Thus preparing and making them capable in terms of pursuing further education or getting a job or even applying to a prestigious institute for engineering or MBA or a PhD is our aim.

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