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Giving them a strong foundation

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Kindling interest: Underprivileged students being trained at the Ibtida Shiksha Kendra’s Computer Lab in Delhi Public School, Mathura Road on Thursday.
Kindling interest: Underprivileged students being trained at the Ibtida Shiksha Kendra’s Computer Lab in Delhi Public School, Mathura Road on Thursday.

Parul Sharma

A grassroots-level effort to educate deprived children in New Delhi

Started with 150 children, it now has a strength of over 700 students, including 334 girls

Everything from books to uniforms, snacks and transport facilities are provided free of cost

NEW DELHI: At first glance, Moinuddin and Nilofer appear like two quintessential school-going children who look forward to the games period and computer class in school.

Nattily dressed in uniforms, complete with a school belt and black shoes, it is difficult to believe that these children were once squandering away their childhood begging on the Capital’s streets.

Moinuddin and Nilofer are Class II students of ‘Ibtida Shiksha Kendra’, an institution run by Delhi Public School (DPS) on Mathura Road for the underprivileged strata in the neighbouring areas of Nizamuddin, Jangpura, Kaka Nagar and Lajpat Nagar.

The institution that was conceptualised in 2001 to provide education to the economically weaker sections of society, started with 150 children and has a strength of over 700 students today, including 334 girls.

Ibtida Shiksha Kendra runs classes from Nursery to Class VIII after the day school is over.

Everything from books to uniforms, snacks and transport facilities are being provided to the children free of cost.

“When we started out way back in 2001, we thought that there should be some kind of arrangement of education for children in our immediate neighbourhood.

"We initially thought of doing it in collaboration with the Government, but knew that we were not ready to brook any kind of interference. So we decided to use our own infrastructure and resources to teach these children,” says Ikrar Hussain, Principal of DPS Mathura Road.

“Earlier we used the books and uniforms of students from the day school. But later we decided that we should give these children everything brand new. We even got the same uniform designed for children from both the day and evening schools. The students have access to computers, something that they may have never even dreamt of,” he adds.

Though initially the institution welcomed students from all age groups, it now prefers to enrol children for the junior classes like Nursery and Prepratory to ensure a strong foundation for them.

It follows a screening process for admitting students and only one or two children from one family are taken in.“There was a time when many people whose children were studying in other schools wanted to take admission in our institution. But we were clear from the very beginning that our target was the group that did not have resources to send their children anywhere.

"When people apply for admission, our officials go and check their background themselves to ensure that the most needy can avail themselves of this scheme,” says Mr. Hussain.

He also adds that now the authorities have made it compulsory for all the DPS Schools to initiate such programmes.

Students of the evening institution who show promise in terms of performance, confidence and creativity are promoted to the day school and so far 29 such students have made it to the morning school.

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