The Akanksha Foundation is a non-profit organization in India with a mission to provide children from low-income communities with a high-quality education, enabling them to maximize their potential and transform their lives. Akanksha works in the field of education, initiating school reform through The School Project, and providing a supplemental education through the Akanksha centers. The School Project model has been adapted from best practices of high-performing schools around the world and Akanksha’s own extensive experience in education gathered over its twenty years of serving some of the poorest slum communities of Mumbai and Pune. Currently, Akanksha reaches out to over 6800 children through two models: the after-school or center model and the School Project. Akanksha has 21 schools and 3 centers in Mumbai and Pune.
Below are projects that are funded by U.S. donors through the Akanksha Fund:
- Mahalaxami School
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The Mahalaxmi Mumbai Public School (MMPS) is located at the edge of an upscale South Mumbai locality called Breach Candy. The children attending MMPS come from the area surrounding the school and a majority of them belong to the Ambedkar Nagar community, situated a kilometer away near the Nehru Planetarium, a bustling commercial area of Mumbai. The home environment for most of these children is such that both parents are working as domestic help or drivers. Unemployment and alcoholism in the family are two major concerns in the community. In the next quarter the Mahalaxmi School wants to concentrate on preparing students for assessments. Since the mid-year assessments are scheduled for October, the syllabus will be revised with all the students and the children in higher grades will practice writing answers for exams. Grade 9 students will be focusing more on preparing for the SSC exams in the coming year. Sima, the school principal, has been with Akanksha for over 15 years. She began as a teacher in one of Akanksha’s centers and went on to work as an Administrator. She also underwent the Akanksha Teacher Fellowship program before taking on the role of School Leader at Mahalaxmi Mumbai Public School.
- Shindewadi School
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Shindewadi Mumbai Public School (SMPS) is located in Dadar and started in 2009. The children who attend the school reside in the Gautam Nagar Community. Most of the men work as cleaners and most of the women are homemakers. Most of the parents are illiterate – while some have completed their primary education, very few of them have completed their secondary education. The school provides education from kindergarten through ninth grade and has devoted resources to better engage and incorporate parents in their children’s schooling. In the past two years, the creation of monthly meetings, a parent-teacher association, and informative sessions with parents have been used to ensure the success of both the school and its students. Rashmi, their principal, has been associated with Akanksha for over 10 years now. She taught at Akanksha’s G.D Somani School centre before joining Shindewadi as one of the School Leaders. In the next quarter the Shindewadi School wants to concentrate on preparing students for assessments. Since the mid-year assessments are scheduled for October, the syllabus will be revised with all the students and the children in higher grades will practice writing answers for exams. Grade 9 students will be focusing more on preparing for the SSC exams in the coming year.
The School Project
Other Programs we support at the Akanksha Foundation:
Nalanda Project: A Education Solution by Motivation for Excellence (MFE)
The Nalanda Project seeks to enhance the teaching and learning process through the use of technology. Each student is provided headphones and a tablet that runs Khan Academy—a renowned educational program the makes learning highly interactive and personalized—which can function without the use of mobile connectivity or the internet. Classroom teaching is then supplemented by the videos and modules on the tablets, with exercises and quizzes following each video lesson. Through a real-time tracking dashboard on their laptops, teachers can assist students when needed and see who has mastered certain topics. In its 3rd year Nalanda is running in 57 classrooms, helping over 2000 enthusiastic kids during academic ’15-’16. The Project’s current focus is Math for grade levels 3rd-7th. An analytics algorithm analyzes this students’ exercise, quiz, and test data, which can then provide weekly reports, as required, to teachers, school administrators, and other stakeholders.
Service Learning Program (SLP)
Founded upon the tenet of Gandhian philosophy that each person must be a catalyst of social change, SLP aims to empower students by broadening their understanding of social issues and promoting active citizenship. SLP is a 1.5 year social leadership development program for youth in 7th grade. The goal is to help students become empowered individuals who are able to identify social issues and embrace active citizenship.
Three schools across Mumbai and Pune were selected to run an intervention program specifically geared towards children that were reading below grade level. Teachers were given different trainings for teaching reading and comprehension skills, as well as writing and Math. In the 1st year of the project a 90% improvement was seen amongst students.