Parikrma – Bridging the Gap in Providing High-Quality Education to Poor Children
Parikrma Humanity Foundation, a nonprofit organization that runs schools for underprivileged children in Bangalore challenged one of the most shameful and enduring injustices of post-independence India’s crumbling education system. The unwritten social contract of ‘education for the classes, literacy for the masses’ has continuously restricted the upward mobility of hundreds of millions of midnight’s children. Addressing the need for quality education for children with no or limited means, Parikrma school education model reformed education, unleashed the potential of underserved populations below the poverty lineand enabled those kids to live their lives on equal terms and become valuable contributing members of society.
The holistic ‘Circle of Life’ model of Parikrma for educating under-served children is unique and different from the initiatives taken by the government in association with several nonprofit organizations, as they mainly concentrate on educating a huge number of children but ignore the quality of the education. Consequently, it forms a huge gap between the children who can access high-quality education at private schools and the kids who can avail themselves only of the sub-standard government schools and low-cost, poor quality private schools. This gap gradually forms the inequality where the privileged few going on to college and getting meaningful jobs, while others simply drop out of the system.
Parikrma tried to narrow this gap by choosing and enrolling children from slum-dwelling families who earn below 5k per month and could never afford to send their children to school. The organization wants to prepare these children to integrate with society, hold high-end jobs at multinational companies, and not work at the lower end of the spectrum. To make these dreams true, Parikrma alumni today are working as chefs in Dublin, lead actress, marathoner, professional footballer, Entertainment MD on an international cruiser, entrepreneurs, dentist, graphic designer, fashion designer, lawyers, and more. Starting in the year 2003 by Shukla Bose, Parikrmanow has four schools, one junior college, and one girls’ hostel. It accommodates 1,566 students from 69 slums and four orphanages.
Within two years of its registration, Parikrma established four centers in the garden city (Koramangla, Sahakarnagar, Jayanagar, and Nandhini Layout) as model primaries to break with the unequal school education system of the past century and thereafter, under which the children of the poor and socially disadvantaged were flocked into vernacular medium, indifferently serviced Dickensian-style poor schools affiliated to undemanding state boards. In Parikrma, they don’t just receive free education, but high-quality CBSE English medium learning modules delivered by 45 well-qualified and mission-driven teachers. The children have access to the best labs, both national and international programs and workshops, access to all kinds of sports, interactive hands-on learning from experts in diverse fields, hosted some of the best science and sports festivals in the country, and are part of global youth leadership summits. The teachers here receive national and international training, are part of leadership programs, and are consistently inspired to be able to motivate and challenge the kids.
They are part of the British Council Global School Exchange Program, UK. Through their ETC program, the organization continues to foster excellence in teaching and learning, impacting over 1000s of teachers from government schools, NGO workers, and social entrepreneurs.
Parikrma focuses on healthcare, as physical and mental well-being is critical to children’s learning in school. Apart from imparting high-quality education, the organization provides breakfast. lunch, and snacks with a high-protein drink before the child leaves school. The Parikrma healthcare program includes immunization, hospitalization, regular check-ups, and other medical interventions. Since these children belong to families where substance abuse and violence are regular, mental health counseling is also provided by the foundation. Parikrma also runs reading and writing classes for their illiterate parents, as well as skill-based training, such as tailoring and cosmetology courses to help the mothers of students earn a living. A supportive and peaceful home environment is important for the overall development of the child. The foundation monitors the families and helps the addicted or demotivated adult males to rehabilitate. Parikrma’s community development program offers healthcare education to parents with a focus on family planning and AIDS prevention, vocational training for older siblings, hygiene and sanitation information, and women empowerment programs. Their microfinance plans help parents save and borrow money to run small businesses like selling fruits and vegetables. Children in Parikrma are supported from the age of 5 to 25 years and the foundation also bears the costs of their further education, either in the form of formal college education or vocational training.
During the Covid pandemic, the foundation started an initiative where their volunteers go to places with their begging bowls asking people to donate their unused smartphones and raised funds to get laptops and phones for their students to bring the school to poor children. Parikrma registered a program called Reach-V to engage the community and parents, train teachers, establish SOS lines, and introduce relevant content for online sessions.