To break away from conventional categorisation, each class is named after a component of the solar system
Within moments of entering Parikrma Humanity Foundation at Sahakar Nagar, I was surrounded by several children who came over to initiate a conversation with me. “Akka, what is your name?” or “I study in ‘Mercury' (Class 1), what about you?” they asked.
Parikrma was founded by Shukla Bose in 2003, with the vision of teaching one child at a time. Parikrma is an example of how one need not spend exorbitant amounts to provide quality education.
It now has four schools and a junior college where science and commerce are taught.
“Education does not mean just sending the child to school. The child needs to be equipped with skills that will help him/her enter the mainstream of society. Starting from the basics posed a challenge considering the different age groups and backgrounds the students come from. It was important not to demoralise them. Hence, instead of the conventional categorisation, each of our classes is named after components of the solar system,” said Shukla Bose.
What started in a two-bedroom house with 165 students and eleven teachers has grown considerably over the years. Two batches of Class 10 (Pluto) students have already graduated.
Despite adopting the tough ICSE syllabus, the creative spirit of the children is not hampered. Special care is taken to see that they don't feel pressurised by the schedule.
Students of Class 5 (Asteroid) are able to weave stories that are funny and witty using their imagination. Parikrma also provides funding for students interested in learning music and dance.
Play and learn
Students of this institution have excelled not only in academics, but also in taekwondo, football and athletics, both nationally and internationally. “I always liked playing football. Having constantly learnt new techniques, I have been able to do quite well in competitions,” says Chonminlun Haokip of Class 10, who was named best player at the XLRIT Football Tournament.
However, in future, he dreams of being a fashion designer on a par with those such as Prasad Bidappa.
For Yasmin Habibjan of Class 11 (Copernicus), Parikrma came as a blessing.
“Hailing from a conservative Muslim family, my parents were not keen on letting me study further. But with the support of my teachers here I have been able to convince them and pursue my dreams,” she said.
With students doing well in school, the parents too are not left behind. Some of them have been employed by Parikrma to provide breakfast and evening snacks for the children.
Lunch is provided by The Akshaya Patra Foundation. Some mothers have enrolled themselves for basic English classes and even vocational training in skills such as knitting and tailoring.
Teaching at Parikrma has been a learning experience for the teachers, who the students fondly call “Akka” or “Anna”.
“Despite the amount of emotional baggage these children carry, there's always a sparkle in their eyes. Their backgrounds do not reflect in their behaviour at school. Teaching them has always given me immense joy and satisfaction,” said Bharathi M., the principal.