Bina Lashkari is educating poor children in urban areas through a first-of-its-kind, functional, non-formal curriculum that is sensitive to the children’s unique needs, backgrounds and lifestyles. Keeping in mind, the difficulties these working children face in attending school or integrating into the school system, Bina has developed new ways of providing an initial educational experience to help them with mainstream education.
Since 1989, Bina has established the Doorstep school and other educational programs in multiple areas across Mumbai to create access to basic education. Bina’s curriculum helps children learn basic reading and writing skills in context with their everyday work and activities instead of mugging blindly. It helps them identify bus numbers for commute or when somebody is cheating them. Through a non-formal and motivational teaching methodology that uses school-on-wheels, games and songs, Doorstep school facilitators and teachers create an experiential learning space where children vent their frustrations and share their thoughts. The education methodology also acts as a medium to introduce and impart awareness on subjects such as rights, health and sanitation.
Though, Bina started working with kids of 10 years of age and above, she eventually included 3 year olds in 1991, in a pre-primary education program called “Balwadi” to work on foundation education. This helped children enter school, instead, of starting work at the right age. In 1995, Bina added a formal education component while maintaining the teaching methodology and started a need assessment project with municipal schools to ease the shift to mainstream schools for working children. This helped address the high drop rate of first generation learners who couldn’t adjust. Post this, Doorstep School started a school partnership programme where they provided certain key resources like teachers. She continues to develop the curriculum and make it more comprehensive.
Bina works both with children and their parents to ensure higher adoption and continuity of the program. She motivates and educates the children and promotes their success with the parents to make them feel proud and involved. Doorstep takes fee for every service provided for the child’s development, even if it is 50 Paise instilling ownership and responsibility in both children and parents. Till date, Doorstep has successfully enrolled more than 15,000 children into the formal education system including public and private schools. A large number of NGOs have adopted the Doorstep curriculum and the school-on-wheels concept in the last 10 years.
Bina has been advocating for the implementation of the Early Child Education (ECE) component under the ICDS program of the Central Government Scheme. One of the program focus areas is elementary education for underprivileged children in Maharashtra through Anganwadis. Bina is currently part of the committee to develop and implement the curriculum and training programs under the ECE program in all the Anganwadis in Maharashtra. She also, worked with the Bombay municipal corporation to pass a resolution that allowed children to enroll into schools if they are accompanied by parents without having any docs. This helped the illiterate parents of the underprivileged children who had no legal documents necessary for admissions. This resolutions has been formalised across the country under the Right To Education.
Bina recently started a program, Saksham, focussing on preparing children studying in 8th- 10th Std and living in slums for competitive exams. She plans to continue improving the curriculum and the quality of existing programs while reaching out to more municipal schools to improve the reading skill of the kids.
Note: This was updated in February, 2014. Read on for the ELECTION profile