Masoom: Illuminating the Night Schools of Mumbai
Amol Pashilkar attempted his SSC examination in the year 2004-05. Unfortunately, he did not clear his examinations; he passed only in English. After a four year long gap, in 2009, he joined Milind Night High School.
Amol cleared his SSC examinations with an overall 74%. Masoom was instrumental in making Amol's dreams come true.
“Masoom” meaning “the innocent” works towards building a strong academic foundation and therefore better career opportunities for students of night schools in Mumbai. Currently operating in 15 schools with 1500 students where it focuses on improving the academic performance of night school students.
Masoom is the first organization in Maharashtra to run a comprehensive intervention program for night schools. Masoom offers a unique approach to planning and implementing a comprehensive program for night schools based on their different needs. Masoom’s strategy for sustainable change is to work in the spirit of partnership with all major stakeholders in the education system. Because of Masoom, many like Amol have been able to complete their education and improve their careers.
Masoom; The Story So Far.
Nikita Ketkar, the founder and CEO of Masoom, worked with the Armed Forces Civil Services, Save The Children and Magic Bus, was struck by the horrifying condition of education in Night Schools in Mumbai. In 2007 when Nikita, with a background in political science, completed a social research project examining the conditions of Night Schools in Mumbai, it proved to be a turning point in her life and career; a new venture was born, Masoom.
Nikita established Masoom, a dedicated NGO that specifically addresses the quality and access to infrastructure and education available in night schools, with the intention to improve the learning environment and the future prospects amongst the less privileged students. Masoom was registered as a Charitable Trust on the 14th January 2008.
Masoom’s pilot program began in November 2008 in the night schools situated at Parel and Worli. Starting with two night schools in 2008, it is now working with 10 night schools located in the Worli, Parel and Dadar areas of Mumbai. Currently the only non-profit in the city intervening in night schools, Masoom has a three pronged intervention program in night schools in Mumbai. The intervention includes education infrastructure, capacity building for teachers and students and advocacy:
- Educational infrastructure and inputs: Providing textbooks, notebooks, workbooks, mobile science laboratories, Math kits, providing supplementary classes and special moderator sessions for students appearing for SSC examination, etc.
- Capacity building support for teachers and students: Masoom places educational co-ordinators in night schools who provide comprehensive training for teachers as well as guidance and support for students. This component includes training workshops, personalised counselling sessions, field visits, home visits, vocational guidance and nutritional support.
- Advocacy: Putting night schools on the development agenda of authorities and ensuring that they receive adequate infrastructural inputs is an extremely important area for Masoom, so as to ensure that night schools are not neglected.
Since night schools are run from 6:30 to 9:30 in the evening, most of these students come after long hours of work. By providing meals, Masoom ensures that they can study more efficiently. The kids call it ‘nashta’ as sometimes it is the only meal they have in the day.”
Masoom will be working in 15 night schools in 2011- 2012.
The Challenge of the Night School.
Almost all the night school students are 1st generation learners and are likely to work during the day as domestic workers, care takers or labourers. Alternatively, students may be day school drop-outs or migrants. Night schools struggle because often they are invisible to the average day worker. They teach the same syllabus as day schools, however a full days teaching is condensed into a 3 hour period in the evening, highlighting another issue faced by night schools; the lack of teaching time.
The night schools belong to the public sector and suffer from ongoing challenges with the lack of managerial and governance oversight. They struggle with a lack of funds and motivation to change.
There is 40% instance of substance addiction amongst these students and many of them are susceptible to peer influence and there is an increased likelihood that they will engage in anti social behaviour such as, theft, robbery and drug abuse.
However despite their backgrounds the students attend night school because they have a thirst for education. They join night schools on their own initiative in attempt to complete a good education and improve their lot in life.