Project Why's mission was to bring quality education to the most underprivileged children. That is what it set to do 16 years ago. Thankfully Project Why did not come with a set plan, an education policy. a fixed programme comfortably drafted in an armchair, but decided to adopt the one day and one child at a time approach. It was soon to realise that the word 'quality' in its mission statement would have to be place on hold for some time. The amended mission was simply 'education to the poorest child'. The reason for this change was that Project Why soon realised that most if not all the children that entered its space were far behind the class they were enrolled in. The first task was to ensure they came to level and thus did not drop out.
A child friendly strategy was set in place and over the years no child has dropped out and many children top their classes.
It is time Project Why reinstated the word 'quality' and work out a strategy to meet the challenge.
Easier said than done.
Quality school education should enable a child to accede to quality higher education and quality education for children from poor homes would mean the state universities. With the marks our children get at present and boy we are proud of them, the only options they have is evening college or distance learning. The challenge for Project Why would be to ensure that some students get admission in the hallowed portals of the likes of Delhi University.
For the past year or so, the (ill)famed cut off rates have skyrocketed to 100%. Once again this year 2 colleges have a one hundred percent cut off while others hover in the high nineties.
Project Why students rarely get 90+%. They may be a few but most of our good students get in the seventies or eighties. Remarkable feat when you live in a tiny hovel and have no place to study, when your family is illiterate, when you have only a couple of hours of extra coaching at Project Why as your family cannot afford tuition, when the TV blares in your home and when school is far from the even level field ad enabling environment it should be. In these circumstances even a 50% is stellar.
Hence the challenge Project Why faces is to work out a way by which an even level field can be created.
Project Why is in the midst of serious reorganising and looking at its future. The question often asked on whether it would want to increase numbers is quickly set aside. Project Why is not looking at growing in numbers. What Project Why aspired to is to revert to is initial mission of quality education.
Given its present resources this is not feasible. Quality education would mean more teachers and teaching hours both needing added finances. The 90 minutes contact time is barely sufficient to meet the curriculum support needs.
In the primary Project Why would need an extra 45 minutes and a spoken English teacher. For the secondary it would need extra time and subject teachers for science, English and humanities. That is the very minimum that would help push marks up.
It is felt by one and all that this is the need of the hour.