School of Thought

Society - - NOVEMBER 2014 100 -

“YOU don’t need to be a multi-mil­lion­aire or a Bill Gates to get into so­cial work,” says a con­fi­dent Shukla Bose, Founder and CEO of Parikrama Hu­man­ity Foun­da­tion. Much like Shukla, who quit her high-pay­ing cor­po­rate job more than a decade ago to be­come a torch­bearer for ed­u­ca­tion of the un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren, Parikrama is also note­wor­thy in terms of its unique ap­proach to­wards ed­u­ca­tion and em­pow­er­ment. “The Parikrama 360 de­gree model is dis­tinc­tive,” says Shukla, sit­ting in the of­fice of the Parikrama school in Jayana­gar (one of the four in Ben­galuru; apart from one ju­nior col­lege), with art­works drawn by ‘her chil­dren’ adorn­ing the walls. “In emerg­ing economies like ours, you can­not iso­late ed­u­ca­tion. How can chil­dren at­tend school if they are hun­gry? Do well in stud­ies if they are ill? Or, have the en­thu­si­asm to par­tic­i­pate in any­thing if they come from a dys­func­tional fam­ily? So, Parikrama brings about a so­cial reengi­neer­ing of sorts.” “While our chil­dren re­ceive high-qual­ity English medium ed­u­ca­tion (af­fil­i­ated to the ICSE Board) and global ex­po­sure, we also pro­vide them with whole­some break­fast, lunch and high-pro­tein snacks that are pre­pared in con­sul­ta­tion with lead­ing nu­tri­tion­ists. We even have regular health check-ups done.” In or­der to in­volve stu­dents’ fam­i­lies in their devel­op­ment and up­bring­ing, Shukla runs de-ad­dic­tion pro­grammes for al­co­holic fa­thers, pro­vides vo­ca­tional train­ing to moth­ers who wish to sup­ple­ment their in­come and had also launched an af­ter­school adult lit­er­acy pro­gramme. “We even help par­ents find em­ploy­ment,” as­serts Shukla. “In most cases, we em­ploy them our­selves. Most of the non-teach­ing staff is moth­ers, fa­thers and grand­fa­thers of chil­dren study­ing in our schools.” In Parikrama’s end-to-end model, the school ed­u­cates stu­dents from the age of five, spon­sors their col­lege ed­u­ca­tion and also pro­vides them with job in­ter­view train­ing (some­times even place­ments) and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills. For this, Shukla spends al­most Rs. 30,000 an­nu­ally per child. “We en­sure that the chil­dren are em­pow­ered and never feel in­fe­rior to any­one. In fact, one of our girls was se­lected to San Diego last year to rep­re­sent the coun­try in a global youth lead­er­ship sum­mit,” she proudly says. To keep the Parikrama Model up and run­ning, and raise aware­ness, Shukla con­ducts var­i­ous events and fundrais­ers year round, the lat­est one be­ing Heart for Art, which, af­ter be­ing con­ducted in San Fran­cisco and New York, was held for the first time in In­dia. The event raised funds through the sale of the art­work made by the chil­dren and was tremen­dously suc­cess­ful in the same. That’s not all, through her Ed­u­ca­tion Trans­for­ma­tion Cen­tre, Shukla trains teach­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors of gov­ern­ment schools, so that the Parikrama Model would ben­e­fit more and more chil­dren. Years of Shukla’s ef­forts have cer­tainly not gone in vain. If their statis­tics are any­thing to go by, then Parikrama schools lock 96% at­ten­dance rate (which, they claim, is the high­est in the coun­try) and have less than 1% dropouts. And this, Shukla in­sists, is just the be­gin­ning. Way to go, we say!

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