This amazing couple, Mazin Mukhtar, an aerospace engineer from the US returned to India to follow his passion of teaching with his wife, Parmita Sarma, a postgraduate in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, are contributing to the society by asking children to come to school and bring waste plastics with them as school fees.
This single step of theirs is fulfilling three major needs of the society:
- Providing education to poor children
- Taking off the burden of paying school fee from poor parent’s shoulders
- Recycling plastics, which can make the environment a better place for future generations
Akshar School on the outskirts of Guhawati in Assam was started with 20 students. Today this school has about 110 students and all of them belong to poor families. The school is affiliated with the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).
The students here have to bring at least 25 clean plastic items per week and that will allow them to not pay their school fees. While studying environment these students are taught how to make eco-friendly construction items from these waste plastic items.
The couple saw poor families of their students burning plastics to get rid of them and to beat the cold. First, they explained their students how it was badly affecting the climate but it did not help. Later, they made it mandatory for the students to bring plastics as school fees.
Students here can earn along with studying
Educating the underprivileged has always been a problem in this country as the poor families say that they cannot afford the fees and even if the schooling is free, it is difficult for them to lose an earning member of the family.
This couple has a solution to the latter problem also.
Along with conventional academics the students are also taught essential life skills and are given vocational training. The first vocational training that they receive is how to be a teacher. The older students can teach the younger kids for which they will be paid.
This helps the older kids to support their family. Such a factor greatly minimises the chances of students dropping out of the school and rather it motivates them to stay in school.
School fees is not the only area where Akshar is outstanding, there is more
These students are not even graded here. The couple holds that their main aim is to educate the students through fun earning activities rather than unhealthy competition.
They are taught about life skills that help them to have a productive life which we the “privileged” ones crave for.
Mostly because our teachers have been so busy teaching us how to take out different angles of a triangle in a circle that they forgot to teach us how to perform basic and necessary functions in life. These students are taught about finance, compassion, and communication.
The older students teaching the younger kids are given incentives so that they can learn more which will enable them to earn more.
Akshar has partnered with the Nalanda Project from Motivation for Excellence so that their students don’t lack behind in technology.
The teenager who is trained to teach younger students is equipped with a tablet. She also, becomes a private mentor and instructor for many kids. This leads her to emerge as a strong community leader.
This school model should be an inspiration for authorities
This new model of school teaches students to take responsibility for their surrounding and try to save the world. The students of this school participate in the recycling center and make eco-friendly things.
This school is a living example for higher authorities. It is model based on which government schools for underprivileged children should be made.
Akshar is currently trying to implement their model in a government school in Delhi with much bigger plans. It has partnered with the local government and The Education Alliance. They aim at transforming public education.
“It is model for low-cost education reform.”
Image credits: Google Images, Akshar Foundation
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