The large, cosmopolitan port city of Mumbai is the financial and entertainment capital of India. The city is a thriving melting pot of cultures, languages, and ethnicities, and the large ‘slums’– housing 62% of its population– are no exception.
Mumbaikars are well-known for their work ethic and industriousness, and we’ve found this is especially true of Mumbai’s less-privileged communities. Their resourcefulness, ambition and exuberance are inspiring to any one who experiences it. It’s being inspired that keeps us going in our mission to enable them to strive for their dreams. With the caliber of people we find here, we think that even a few empowered individuals is all that it will take to create the kind of ripples of change India needs.
In 2000, VIDYA opened an office in Mumbai on the campus of IIT Bombay and began implementing decades of experience in the field of education and community empowerment. In no time, VIDYA began to grow. Extending beyond IIT Bombay, the staff at VIDYA Mumbai decided to settle within the community itself to reach more children, youth, and women, to better serve the community. Today, VIDYA Mumbai operates 17 centers and reaches more than 3,000 beneficiaries.
Throughout the year, VIDYA Mumbai leads several initiatives, including Beyond School, Bhavishya Yaan, Youth Program, and School Partnerships. To support students, their families, and their teachers, VIDYA Mumbai manages the Computer Learning & Resource Center, Community Initiatives Cell, and Learning & Development Cell. The organization also organizes various events, activities, and excursions—from Sunday morning football to the annual literature festival.
The Beyond School program seeks to provide quality education to 500 students across 5 community centres in Powai by providing quality education and holistic development. VIDYA Umang is a Beyond School Enrichment Program, which provides a safe learning environment for children in communities. It builds in them a sense of achievement and joy in learning.
Umang is a fine blend of academics and co-curricular activities. It aims to raise the bar for each and every learner, even as it allows fast learners, and the slow learners their space to grow. The program focuses on academic enrichment and techniques for the children to reach their best potential in their school and to raise awareness in communities.
Academic subjects such as Maths, Science, spoken English and computer literacy are taught in order for children to reach their potential in school.Other forms of learning through dance and art are also encouraged. VIDYA focuses on life skills and personality development through classes and sessions.
We also inculcate Sports in the program to enable children to learn the value of team work. VIDYA seeks to build socially responsible citizens through these holistic programs. In the future, VIDYA is seeking to develop its scholarship program for Beyond School alumni to fund the education of those who are eager to pursue further studies.
Bhavishya-yaan is run in partnership with the Rotary Club of Bombay and operates in 8 municipal schools around Mumbai for around 120 select students in each school from classes 6-9.
Bhavisha-yaan focuses on spoken English, computer skills and life skills with a view to enhance educational and employment opportunities for students who come from regional language schools. The curriculum is devised using creative methods and teaching aids to ensure understanding and not rote learning. Tests have highlighted a 40% improvement in written English and vocabulary proficiency in comparison to those students who did not enrol in the program at the school examination level. Excursions and other extra-curricular activities are arranged on a daily basis to ensure a simulating environment that encourages interest in learning and knowledge.
India has one of the largest emerging youth populations. One of the ways to enhance this useful resource is to educate and empower the youth. VIDYA wants to open doors and encourage creativity among the community youth to help them to explore their capabilities.
VIDYA seeks to maximise the potential of lesser privileged and drop-out youth with a focus on English skills, computer-aided learning and life-skills. The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) program allows youth to complete their education up to 10th and 12th Standard through academic assistance and courses. The Computer Learning Resource Centre (CLRC) provides computer literacy courses through curriculums developed by NIIT. English speaking courses are also given. These extra classes go a long way in increasing their confidence and making them more employable.
In keeping with VIDYA’s integrated approach, the Youth Program seeks to make every youth, job-ready by training them with soft skills and life skills. VIDYA has also launched its very own Youth Forum, open to both community youth and the alumni. The idea is to have a space for youth to come together, exchange ideas, debate, engage in creative activities like literature, art, drama and recreational activities like reading, indoor games etc.In 2014/15 the Youth Program seeks to impact the lives of 500 beneficiaries through NIOS, computer courses and English courses.
A future goal for the program is to extend vocational guidance by facilitating placements through collaborations and partnerships.
VIDYA programs have a healthy gender ratio towards females. For the last 8 years VIDYA has been running a program for women empowerment called Margam which has aimed at skill training, literacy and awareness. Now this program is donning a new avatar. A women’s self-help group is emerging from the alumni who have trained for tailoring and Warli art at Margam. VIDYA shall continue to focus on the empowerment and employability of young girls through its Beyond School and Youth programs.