In 1997, Mamta Aeidurappa, then six years old, lived in the slums at Bandra with her family of seven.
But her determination to learn new things led her to join Aseema, an city-based education centre for underprivileged children, and today she is pursuing her dream of becoming a professor in a reputed college.
Aeidurappa is not an isolated case. Established in 1997, Aseema has been providing quality education to Mumbai’s neglected children, those living in slums and streets.
What was started as a makeshift school in Bandra teaching children from the vicinity, the 15-year-old centre has now grown to educate more than 1,500 students from three civic schools in Bandra and Santa Cruz with the help of more than 100 trained teachers.
“I saw a startling disconnect between what is happening at the policy level and at the grassroots level. So, I quit my career as a lawyer in Geneva and returned to Mumbai with an objective to empower children through education,” said Dilbur Parakh, founder, Aseema.
“Our methodology is primarily Montessori, which is a rarity in civic schools. We have classes on art, theatre and cinema. The teaching methodology is innovative and the learning environment is meaningful and fun,” said Sanaa Shaikh, director of education, Aseema. The centre has now also started a school for tribal children in Igatpuri.
The centre plans to expand its presence with public-private partnerships. “At present, we do not get any funds from the municipal corporation. Through a public-private partnership, there will be a check on credibility, appropriate funding from the BMC and it will also allow us to expand gradually and work with other NGOs,”added Shaikh.
As part of its 15th year celebrations, the students will be involved in various community-centric activities and the centre will host debates and cultural programmes at the three schools.