Laksh Learning Centers are located in and around Mangar village, nestled in a pastoral valley between Gurgaon and Faridabad, surrounded by the 670 million year old Aravalli plateau range that predates the subcontinental collision. It falls in the National Capital Region, 31 km from New Delhi Airport and 32 km from New Delhi Railway Station.
While Gurgaon is the IT hub of North India and Faridabad is a major industrial city, these villages are largely agrarian The population is Hindu (87.77%) and Muslim (8.33%). Both communities in this area are very conservative in outlook yet live in commendable harmony. The Sex Ratio is 871(F):1000(M).
Each village has at least one Govt Crèche and Primary school; some have High Schools as well. Although literacy for urban Faridabad district is pegged at 83%, it is substantially lower in these villages. Consequently, while provided basic educational services in these schools, children receive little or no instructional or supervisory support at home. Although bright, able and full of beans, just as kids their age should be, they were dropping out of schools because they couldn’t cope with the academics, and it made more sense to go to work to help support their families.
The Laksh Foundation tackled this by starting up a school on Laksh Farms in 2007 with a focus on remedial learning. Within 4 months, there were 78 children on the rolls, coming from the neighbouring villages. We had one guiding principle: “No child would be refused education at a Laksh School”.
Nearly a decade later we have more than 1000 students enrolled into our Learning Centers across six villages, and we are still growing.
No child is turned away. We place children in classes on their ability, not their age. We give them extra tuition and one-to-one guidance for exams, as well as things like stationery, uniforms, and a snack each day. We’ve seen children transform before our eyes.
While the focus remains on Remedial Learning and the Three Rs – Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic- Laksh has been following the standard Haryana Board (CBSE) curriculum with educational material prescribed by the NCERT (National Council for Educational Research & Training) which is enhanced through additional exercises, games and creative activities to make learning fun, interactive and collaborative. As of this year we are introducing the Rural Curriculum, to make learning more relevant to their world.
Our educational experiences go beyond traditional school environment – excursions, creative exercises, games, activities and workshops. Talented professionals generously donate time, designing and conducting exercises to bring new experiences to our children, to expand their horizons beyond the books, tests and rote-learning.
Creative activities not only help our children learn better by breaking inertia, they also help them work together as teams, gain more confidence in their own judgement, learn to have fun with education and to hone their own intuition.
One of the most unique features of our Program is that we motivate and nurture local youth to become trainee teachers who, in turn, inspire and train more young people, setting into motion a self-sustaining growth pattern. All our teachers started their educational journey as kids in the Laksh School, and today, nearly a decade later, they are our most talented budding educators.
While our team of teachers have dedicated their time and effort towards building an educational community, we balance the efforts by providing them financial and logistical support to pursue whatever educational qualifications they choose.
In 2010, we had the good fortune of starting the Warwick Laksh Programme in collaboration with Warwick University. We receive 12 volunteers a year to bring in special teacher training programmes, class teaching methods, study material, creative exercises, games, concepts… all of which are integrated into our daily practice along with our talented pool of local teachers.
We take responsibility for addressing local issues with sensitivity and respect. One of the major issues has been education for girls, who were customarily pulled out of school in or after middle school. We spent many years counselling the parents, having in-depth discussions with the village elders, trying to make them see the big picture and driving home the fact that education would empower women to be a great asset to the community. Today after our consistent efforts we have a healthy 45% girl-child representation amongst our students and we couldn’t be prouder.
Today, our Centers host more than 1000 students across 6 villages (see below) and the numbers are ever increasing. We wish to reach out to more neighbouring villages by staying true to our guiding mantra of “No child left behind” and continue to create a sustainable educational ecosystem as far and wide as possible.
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