Shalini’s Story: From slums to star student. India.




Many kids in the very poor and “slum” areas around Lucknow, or in rural villages around Lucknow, do not go to school. Families are usually illiterate, live in abject poverty, and are unaware of any existing social services available to them including schooling for their children. GyanSetu, or Non-informal Education Centers (NECs) are one-classroom learning centers built within the slums. Led by a trained teacher, they provide access to education to the kids in these slums, teach the kids the basics of literacy and math to bring them to grade level appropriate to their age, and then work with their parents to introduce them to the existing community services and facilitate enrolling their kids in public schools.

Shalini was illiterate when she came to the Shankarpur Non-Formal Education Center (NEC) in 2015. She had never attended school before. Her parents left the country, so she lived with her grandmother in severe poverty in a slum surrounding Lucknow.

Thanks to Mona support for the Shankarpur NEC, by the end of one year Shalini could read and write and had fallen in love with learning. With the help of her NEC teacher who trained at Digital Study Hall, Shalini enrolled in a local public school last year. She is now one of the top three students in her class. She is passionate about continuing her education through secondary school and university.

NECs also counsel women and young girls in these slums on critical women’s issues with the help of professional counselors. Mothers’ meetings are held 6 to 7 times a month at every center. During these meetings, the NEC teacher, accompanied by counselors from Suraksha (an anti-dowry and family counseling center), talk to mothers regarding issues such as domestic violence, alcoholism, health and hygiene. If and when cases of domestic violence, dowry, substance abuse, etc., are reported, counselors from Suraksha intervene, and if needed the police are also called in.

With Mona’s support, there are currently a total of 26 NECs, educating 856 children in slums. The goal is to increase the number of NEC to 100 in the next 2 years to reach an additional 2,500 of the most marginalized and innocent kids.  It costs $3,000 a year to build and operate one of these centers including teacher’s training and salary.

Give the gift of education to 20 more Shalini for $40/month.

Every NEC takes in and educates between 20-40 children from the slums around Lucknow. It costs $3,000 a year to operate one center for one year.

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