We should embark education as the stepping stone of a child’s journey and each child deserves a quality education. While this thought is great, Indian society faces a bigger problem. That is a child getting access to quality education in India.
And this is the challenge that Ashish Goyal is trying to address through Umang Foundation. Founded in 2008 by three IT professionals, Umang is focused to reduce the school drop-outs in slum based and rural Maharashtra by taking preventive measures rather than stitch in the hole by providing basic stationery material. Project ‘Promote Education’ has provided over 1.2 lakhs stationery kits (since inception) to school going children to help them to continue their studies.
How big is the problem of quality education?
Big enough for us to worry! According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) in 2014, “The proportion of all children in Class 5 who can read a Class 2 text has improved by 1 percentage point from 2013—48.1% of children of Class 5 could read a class 2 text in 2014 against 47% in the previous year”.Source.
“Quality education in India can solve more problems than what we can see and note. You can’t expect India to grow as a country where the essentials – education, security and life’s basics are missing”, says Ashish.
Ashish and two of his other colleagues cater to children’s first need for education. Stationery items like pen, books, notebooks, and related. About 9 years back during the 1st drive-by Umang, around 30 students were present. And in one of the other drives conducted in the year 2016, the count was amazing -30,000. “The determination, hard work, and persistence gave the desired result”, says Ashish.
Over the years, Umang Foundation has entered four times in Limca Book of Records for organizing largest stationery distribution drive year on year to distribution highest number of stationery kits in a single day.
Other than providing stationery, Umang addresses the needs of students in many other ways as well. The foundation conducted a drawing competition for over 50,000 school students from 150 different schools in Ulhasnagar. Around 1,000 books were donated to the school library of Kai SauVijayataiVidyamandir. That has increased students motivation and regularity to the school.
Other than this Umang helped set up a library in 60+ schools with 500-1000 books each school. It also arranged for IPL tickets for 4400+ school students from slum areas in 2013.
The Ongoing Hiccups
Umang Foundation does not have any employees and runs on 100% voluntarily basis which helps the organization to keep its admin cost ~1% only. Around 10,000 people from Mumbai have volunteered with Umang at least once and people from various professions have stood up for supporting the foundation. Umang still needs more people participating with them as for a bigger cause you need more hands and heart. Other than people monetary help is equally required. “People contribute from Rs. 100 to thousands as per their will and when combined it helps. There are also corporate helping us at times on specific projects, but there is still a lot that we need“, says Ashish.
Ashish and his wife Pooja are currently running the organization. And want to provide atleast1 lakh stationery items to students in this year. The plan is also to provide clean drinking water to schools in Mumbai. Out of which 700 schools have already been covered.
The true art of giving is what Ashish and his team have achieved through Umang and the satisfaction that the team gets from looking at the smiling faces cannot be measured in any way.
“When you educated a child you give them the ability to think right rather than telling them what is right”, says Ashish.
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