The management lessons they learn are sure to fetch them top-notch corporate jobs, but for students of Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), helping underprivileged children get school admission under the Right To Education Act has offered more valuable experience in social responsibility.
Apart from imparting education to underprivileged children, a group of IIMA students have ensured that nearly 1800 schools have implemented free and compulsory education, enabling those from backward sections to get formal education. Prayas, an initiative that began a decade ago and has since remained a regular fixture at IIMA, has ensured that more than 500 underprivileged children are admitted in various schools this year, a figure that could rise further as admission in many private schools are still ongoing. Last year, they could enrol only 25 to 30 children.
The initiative began in 2004 with after-school tutoring and providing free books to children from the Vastrapur Municipal School."It began as an education support system for underprivileged children living around the campus,” said Ashish Ranjan, a student of PGP in IIMA.
“Today, we fund the education of 27 children in private schools. The cost of educating a child is nearly Rs 12,000 per year, including tuition fees, uniforms, transport and books,” he explained.
Under Action Research on Implementation of RTE, IIMA students working in Prayas created awareness among parents that their wards could be admitted in schools through the Act. Ranjan said that the Prayas team ensured they collected admission forms, speak to the parents and ensured they sent their wards to schools.
“It is difficult to convince parents from certain social backgrounds on the importance of their children going to school,” said Piyush Verma, another student with Prayas. He said the Prayas team would do a follow up activity to understand how many of those children continue with their schools and how many drop out.