Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Care for India declares IIMPACT NGO of the month

Care for India's aim is to create a web based interface which will act as a library or a knowledge sharing portal where in individuals willing to extendsupport can get to know about others who have been involved in suchinitiatives.

Care for India chooses IIMPACT as the NGO of the month in recognition of the meaningful work carried out in the realm of education of the underpriveleged girl child in various parts of India.

You can read all about it - just go to this link:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Tuesday, August 4, 2009 5:32 PM

Making an impact on female literacy

Aparna Bansal , Contributor , New Delhi Tue, 07/28/2009 9:46 AM Features

Girls only: IIMPACT, an organization created by members of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedebad Class of 1978, strives to increase female literacy in India. In Rajasthan, about 100 kilometers from New Delhi, the rocky roads are laden with trucks like wounded elephants waddling along the path.
Schools of goats smile placidly in the sunshine, small children in brown clothes run with scarves wrapped tightly around their heads to protect them against the fierce mid-morning rays of the sun, and men give you directions based on the location of the trees.
Here, in the March heat of Rajasthan, amid a swirl of yellow-brown mustard dust, 30 girls between the ages of six and 14 sit on the floor in a small, roofed hut, furiously scribbling numbers into their notebooks.
They wear salwar kameez or long-sleeved tops hanging over loose trousers, and some have a dupatta wrapped around their heads.
A young woman in a bright yellow salwar kameez with a nervous but friendly smile walks through the group, providing encouragement.
This is a mathematics class at the Devta-Arman center, one of the 287 centers of its kind set up across five states in the Indian subcontinent by IIMPACT, an organization created by members of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedebad Class of 1978.
As one of the founders, Anil Tandon, explained, at an alumni reunion in 2002 the graduates discussed how they wanted to give back to society in some way, ultimately deciding on the cause of education. They sought to improve literacy in the most backward regions of India, especially where there was a large disparity between male and female literacy.
“The multiplier effects of educating girl children are enormous,” said Abhay Borwankar, one of the organization’s donors. “They are the main victims of socioeconomic backwardness and are most often not given the chance to go to school.”
“By educating the women, we improve the lives of their whole family and the communities they are in,” Anil added. “We can break the poverty cycle, allow even the women to earn a livelihood.”
With donations from fellow graduates and other interested contributors in India and the USA, as well as support in terms of worksheets and curricula provided by other NGOs, IIMPACT was created, setting up one-room learning centers for girls in villages with low literacy levels across the nation.
These villages are the settings of child marriages and female feticide even today, and the organization aims to change some of these traditions through the introduction of education. The path to better education, however, was not easy.
Summing up life: Teacher Irfan leads the students through math class at non-governmental organization IIMPACT’s Chor Baseri center. JP/Aparna Bansal
“There was lots of backlash,” recalled Nirmala Tandon, co-ordinator of IIMPACT. “Centers were shut down because some members of the community felt we were intruding into their territory and didn’t believe that girls should be sent to school.”
But slowly, the communities began to see the benefits of educating girls first hand, as parents, who had never been educated themselves, could get help from their children when trying to calculate loans or read signs. Reluctant parents heard news of the high scores that girls at the centers were receiving, and finally agreed to allow their own daughters to attend as well.
“We also had to change the timing of [classes] so that the girls would still be able to attend the local madrasah and do odd jobs to provide income to the family,” Anil said.
Now, 9,000 girls who would have otherwise remained uneducated come to a center such as this one in Rajasthan to learn math, English, Hindi and environmental studies for about five hours each weekday. Each center has one teacher, who receives at least one month of training from the organization.
The local community provides the room, which has no air conditioning or fan, but does have a mat for the girls to sit on. Instead of textbooks and memorization, here the focus is on activity-based learning, with stories for Hindi class and counting stones for math.
In each area of the room, a different task is underway. The youngest-looking girls sit in one corner working on single-digit addition, while the oldest work through word problems. They are all the daughters of daily wage earners and most are Muslims. None of them knows exactly how old they are. As they scribble away into their notebooks, deep concentration etched on each face, their passion for learning is evident.
“They don’t receive any free meals or anything for coming — the only incentive for coming is education,” said Anil. “And they come regularly.”
At the Arman or Ambition center, the students live up to the center’s name. Kanta, about 13 years old, is one of the most outgoing girls.
Her favorite subjects are Hindi and English, and she wants to be a teacher one day. Her eyes light up as she daydreams with a wistful smile at the mention of airplanes and foreign lands.
At the Chor Baseri center, the girls are more shy and reserved. Karishma, about 14 years old, leans against the wall and works on two-digit division in a book wrapped in newspaper featuring the image of Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai on the front. She speaks in a soft voice, with a hint of a smile playing around her lips.
She dropped out of government school in the 5th grade, finding it too distant and rote-learning based, and went to join the center. She is an only child, unusual in this area where families tend to have four or five children each, and after she gets home she is in charge of many of the household chores, including drawing water, washing dishes and cleaning the house.
Sitting beside her is Asma, around 12 years old, an avid reader who has read about half of the 50 books available at the center’s library, and even volunteers to retell her favorite – a story about a chicken. When asked what she wants to do when she’s older, she smiles down at her lap.
“That is up to God’s will,” she says.
Here, the boys take a backseat, watching their female counterparts learn. One boy stands in a corner with his baby brother in his lap.
“My mother is out cutting wheat, and my father has gone to town,” he explains. “My sister is one of the students here.”
A larger man stands outside the room, staring off into the sands.
“Two of my daughters study here,” he says, in a rough voice. “It is a good school. I am happy they are willing to do this.”
His words resonate with the sentiment of the few mothers present as well, all of whom watch with pride as their daughters write out Hindi words in their notebooks, words that the parents themselves cannot read. At the Arman center, the girls end the day reciting Hindi poems. Kajol, who looks to be about 10 or 12 years old, volunteers to lead, with the others repeating after her.
As they begin to sing, the sound seems to make the walls, and every colorful drawing of trees and fruits taped onto them, vibrate with energy.
Their voices rise above the ceiling and drift into the dusty, spring winds, their words almost a declaration, “The golden bird will come to my house too.”