Akshar Foundation is keeping kids away from child labour and teaching them important life skills

"Children from low-income sections of society find it very challenging to escape the vicious cycle of poverty. They eventually drop out of school at an early age to fend for their families.

Image: Akshar Foundation
Image: Akshar Foundation

My name is Parmita Sarma.

Along with my mother, Prof. Alaka Sarma, and my husband, Mazin Mukhtar, I started Akshar Foundation in 2016 in Assam, India. When we started this school, we realized that many kids were skipping lessons to earn a living and that money would be key to drive them to attend school. If somehow these children could earn some money at school, they would come regularly, and we would get support from their parents. Hence, we came up with various tasks and activities that would allow the children to gain skills as well as some monetary benefit. For instance, we have introduced the peer-to-peer education model. We encouraged the older kids to tutor younger ones under the supervision of a teacher in exchange for a few Rupees (The Indian Rupee). This way, the children have an opportunity to learn and enhance their teaching skills. Additionally, in order to tutor younger peers, the elder students are motivated to learn more.

Image: Kids learning Geometry through carpentry
Image: Kids learning Geometry through carpentry

The kids in our school come from a neglected section of the society where they have not been treated well. This method inculcates self-confidence and a sense of responsibility towards the society and the younger generation. We have defined different levels for the kids. The more they learn, the quicker they are promoted to a higher level, thereby, earning higher pay for tutoring. We at Akshar Foundation believe that this method is the safest option for the kids to earn money, and we have seen outstanding results.

Akshar Foundation teaches not only classic subjects but also vocational skills that each one of us require in our lives. We have introduced the concept of banking at our school, where students learn to deposit and withdraw their own earned money. This way their earned money is safe, and they can withdraw anytime for any genuine necessities. Apart from this, our kids learn geometry through carpentry, and we are in talks with experts to introduce the skill of landscaping. Before COVID-19, we planned to start a golf course at our school, which was supposed to be run by our students, thereby learning business management. We have also collaborated with a local business dealing with solar panels. This gives our students the exposure and the experience for a thorough orientation of how solar panels work. Our partners would later hire our students, provided they do well in their exams. This model of education boosts hiring opportunities for the kids after they complete their 10+2. 

Another concept that we are highly proud of is introducing recycling and reusing in the school. Our planet is facing a massive climatic crisis, and we want our students to understand the severe consequences. Hence, we have installed a recycling center. All our kids are required to bring 25 bags/bottles of plastic every week. The school is free of cost, but to ensure we run this model efficiently we have asked kids to consider plastics as their weekly fee. Our students recycle the collected plastic into eco-bricks. Moreover, our students have volunteered to rescue injured animals for which they are paid. Students who have the knowledge of first-aid look after the injured animals, and once the pet is recovered, we put it up for adoption. This helps us to instill a sense of empathy towards animals. 

I believe, these kids have so much potential. We have seen them rise up to the level of class 8th in just 4 years. All they need is a little push and encouragement. And once they are introduced to the world of education, independence, and responsibility they will have great potential to become professionals and excel in their careers."

You Humanity pays respect and gratitude to Parmita and Akshar Foundation for going above and beyond to contribute towards Humanity.

If you know someone who is going above and beyond for others, please share the story https://www.youhumanity.com/share-your-story

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