Project WHY’s journey began in 2000 with 40 children who wanted to learn spoken English and a handful of volunteers. As time went by every challenge was addressed by a new activity. The number of children increased, their demands multiplied, new teachers were discovered within tiny jhuggis and lanes, and ad-hoc classrooms found. Parks were cleaned, tents put up, unused pavements cleared, any place would do, but no child was ever sent away as we knew that poor children often have illiterate parents who cannot provide any support in their studies and were at the risk of dropping out. We thus began our first after school support programme at Giri Nagar.
The children came from underprivileged homes and everyone was accepted even if it meant squeezing ourselves in small spaces. Government schools were being used beyond capacity, resulting in poor teaching and learning environment and any help we could give was welcome and needed.
Today, through our 7 after school support centres, we reach out to over 1100 children, 200 women and have created 50 job opportunities for people from the community. The aim of our support centres has been to bridge the education gap for underprivileged children and improve their learning outcome. Our after-school programs go beyond academics to include life skills and all round development in a child friendly environment.
In 2000-2001, we found out that the quality of teaching in Government run schools was dismal. Government schools were being used beyond capacity, resulting in poor teaching and learning environments. This was further compounded by the fact that poor children often have illiterate parents who cannot provide any support in their studies. Project WHY aims at bridging the education gap for under- privileged children and improving their learning outcome. The after-school program goes beyond academic to include life skills and all round development. The programme also conducts extra- curricular activities to raise awareness about the environment and social responsibility, workshops on gender equality, music and photography, educational outings to historical monuments and more. Project WHY programmes are geared towards the continuous improvement of children outcomes through systematic assessments and support.
Right from its inception, Project WHY decided to draw all resources from within the community as we felt that education can only have a true meaning if it is independent of extraneous factor, hence it was decided to find teachers/ resource persons from within. Though the staff may not at first seem qualified in a conventional manner, it has been to be most appropriate for several reasons. First of all it is an extremely motivated group as it has been given the recognition it never had. Secondly belonging to the same social background it is able to understand the problems faced by the children and above all being totally different from the ‘image’ of the teacher the child has, it is able to garner the confidence of the child. Today, we are a team of 50 resource persons from the community and for 80% of them, Project WHY is the sole source of income in the family.