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Changing lives through education: Tata Steel Foundation drives an equitable society

Ranchi/Jamshedpur, Sept 8: Ramesh (name changed), an 11-year-old boy from Jamshedpur, was devastated when his father, the sole bread winner in the family, passed away. He even had to drop out of school, while his mother was forced into wage labour, increasing Ramesh’s disconnect with his family and society.

 He began working at the local garage to support his mother for the household expenses, meanwhile, got into substance abuse. Ramesh’s mother could no longer see her son’s life taking this turn and his life going astray, enrolled him in a residential bridge course run by Tata Steel Foundation (TSF) in the hope for a better future. Ramesh re-joined school after many years. His lack of interest in studies has since been replaced with a keenness to learn, and Ramesh has set his sights on becoming a police officer to be able punish those who commit evil acts.

 To eliminate the worst forms of child labour in Jamshedpur, the Masti Ki Pathshala initiative run by the Tata Steel Foundation envisages bringing all children of the city involved in the worst forms of child labour (an estimated 3,000) off the streets, and into education through residential and non-residential bridge courses.

 In all, 10 such centres are operational today having covered 771 children (over 60 per cent girls) with 189 mainstreamed in schools since inception.

 Like Ramesh, the lives of many children have been impacted under the learning initiatives of the Foundation. Education is a national priority area, and the Foundation is developing approaches that are sensitive to the challenges of the marginalised and excluded communities, and aligned with the ongoing policies and programmes, so that the emerging learnings are replicable.

 A major initiative of TSF is the Thousand Schools Programme that is aimed to create a replicable and scalable model of Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) within the Right to Education Framework. Operational in two blocks of West Singhbhum district, the programme has brought 86 per cent of the 9,697 out-of-school children back to school.

Pre-matric coaching is one of the key educational interventions of the Foundation to ensure that quality education is made accessible to the deserving students from marginalised communities. The coaching is provided to strengthen the basic concept of subjects, which then reflects their performance during matriculation. Coaching classes have been operational at West Bokaro, Jamadoba and Noamundi in 28 centres reaching up to 4029 students with focus on English, Mathematics and Science. Coaching is also provided for college-going students apart from pre-school lessons to kids where around 1000 are touched every year.

The Foundation continues to support meritorious students from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities with scholarships for education at school level, graduation, post-graduation (Jyoti Fellowship) as well as for professional courses like engineering, medicine etc (Tata Steel Scholars).

 Project Akanksha is one of Foundation�s experimental initiatives to provide a formal residential school-based basic education to children from Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) living in very remote and inaccessible geographies, many of whom are first-generation learners. The Foundation has supported 262 children from PVTGs communities through project Akanksha.

 �Every child has unlimited potential that we can tap if we create for them the right opportunities, that include not only academics but also dignity and respect,� said Smita Agarwal, Head (Education), Corporate Social Responsibility, Tata Steel.

 Tata Steel Foundation is resolute in its vision of an enlightened, equitable society in which every individual realises her potential with dignity.

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