I found another school to inspire me and hope it will inspire others as well. I had the pleasure of visiting a Parikrma Learning Centre and meeting its founder Shukla Bose. I am frustrated that I only had the chance to visit this school in my last days in Bangalore. I would have spent lots of time here, otherwise!
Parikrma differs from Ananya in that they keep the kids at home (Ananya is a residential school). But they both serve the same slum kids who otherwise would likely not be attending school at all.
The scope of Parikrma is much bigger, though. Parikrma started nine years ago when Bose left the corporate world to make a difference for children She began first by spending her own life’s savings and since then has spread from one school in the Koramangala slum to four schools and one junior college. Parikrma has served 1,300 children, from kindergarten to getting a job. She shares the Parikrma story in a TED talk given in Mysore recently.
What stands apart for me in the Parikrma model is an understanding of a child as a social system. The group begins with the end point–What is necessary for this slum child to become an employee of IBM? Content is a big focus here. Also instilling a belief in each child that they are special and can make a difference in the world.
Two other aspects stand out–one is the importance of the schools being English medium schools. Bose was adamant that one of the great power differentials in Indian society is the ability to speak English well. Thus, English is the focal point of most lessons.
Second, learning is much more than the classroom at Parikrma. Attention is given to the whole child. How is the child’s health? Nutrition? What barriers are preventing the child from learning? The school offers classes for the mother sat night. It also offers alcohol rehabilitation since the majority of fathers are addicts. The school then works to place the fathers in jobs once they have rehabilitated. Each of these pieces helps to lay the groundwork for the stability necessary for the children to succeed.
Among the students graduating from Parikrma, 11 are in hotel management school two are in college for engineering; one is in college for law. Student has become national champions in many sports–indeed the school is the city champion in sports. Other students have travelled to San Diego for a conference. Still others have worked with Duke University faculty. Others are working on a Robotics lab.
Bose’s corporate background shines through in her clear and compelling presentations of the schools’ vision such as this video. Below, Bose and the headmaster of this Learning Centre.
While the school was officially closed for summer break, groups of children were attending for remedial preparation in math and English. They also were attending to ensure that they received a mid-day meal–perhaps the only meal they will receive today.
As I was leaving, the headmaster and this little fellow presented me with a card to thank me for coming. What magical, magical place.