Nithari is a very crowded urban village , where the local residents own property which they’ve converted into dwellings for themselves and added innumerable one roomed tenements which they rent out to the migrant population.
The construction is very haphazard, with open drains and small lanes. The tenants share toilets and terraces .
We cannot look for premises outside this locality unless we totally change the demography of the intended group we want to focus on, that is the children of the migrant families who live here.
Access to the school where it is operated now is easy for them and the parents are at ease with the idea of their coming to the school on their own.
But for these very reasons, we cannot increase the enrolment ot more than the present strength.
The stay of these migrant families in Nithari is not of a permanent nature.
Often, families relocate back to their villages for one reason or another, or to another such basti, when they are unable to pay the higher rent or have incurred a sizeable debt. This disrupts the continuity of the education of the children.
Sometimes they return after a few months/years and seek admission in the school again. This may happen in the middle of the academic year. Since we do not want to deny them a chance of picking up from where they had left, we accomodate them in one of the classes as per their level of knowledge of the subjects. Invaraibly they lag behind the rest of the students who had been coming regularly. To make them improve their level, the teachers have to work extra hard.
First generation learners.
A majority of the students coming to Saksham have parents who have never attended schools. They are therefore not in a position to understand or assess the level or capability of their children. Often , the kids get to learn the alphabets quite late in the day. After a year or two, some of the parents who have begun to have aspirations for their children, decide that they are fit enough to be enrolled in a higher class and what they perceive is a better school in the locality and withdraw the children from Saksham to get them enrolled elsewhere.
There are several such small schools in this area, primarily being operated as a commercial venture. Most of them are not even recognised by the competent authorities. They charge fees, insist on uniforms and badges and belts, but the education imparted is way below what is being provided in Saksham. This becomes frustrating for the children as well as for the teachers of Saksham. Very often the kids turn up on their own to enroll in the evening classes, which is never denied, but in the meanwhile a lot of precious time is lost.
This project is a community endevour and is sustained by a group of generous individuals and groups, almost all of whom have visited the school at least once or on a more regular basis. We do not have the kind of funding that would make it possible for us to engage qualified teachers to take the classes. Except for a few teachers who are graduates and who take the classes for the Middle school level, the Primary and Upper primary classes are in charge of our own students who have completed/ are in the process of completing their Senior Secondary schooling.
Although all the teachers have a great sense of committment towards the school and do their best, it is a fact that we could do a lot more if we had teachers qualified for the job.
Lack of sufficient funds is therefore a definite drawback.
As the school operates in a location which is not all clean and comfortable, there is a difficulty of having volunteers come to the school on a continuous basis. Except for the very committed ones, the regular visits in the beginning taper off and stop gradually.
Notwithstanding all the factors above, we have endevoured to bring out the optimum results and we cannot say we are disappointed.