Tomorrow’s Foundation Open School Project started in 2001, to offer customized options in continuing education for children between 12 and 20 years, living and working in slums of Kolkata. It reached out to children and youth who had never been to school at all and/or were school drop-outs. The Project provided both Education and Skill Training. The target beneficiaries were mostly residents of the slums of Chetla and Tollygunge. In time, two sub-Projects were added to the Open School Project: (i) STEP (funded by the SMILE Foundation)and (ii) a Targeted Intervention with Child Labour, funded by the UK-based Learning for Life.
During the initial phase, the Open School Project focused on: (i) counseling parents/single mothers to allow their children their right to education, instead of coercing them into becoming wage-earners;
(ii) speaking to factory owners and conducting awareness programmes with them on the rights of the young people they employed. Classes at TF Open Schools were, and still are, held both during the day and in the evening.
“I have been helped by the Tomorrow’s Foundation Open School to finish my education. Today, I have a job in Café Coffee Day. On my holidays, I go back to the Open School to tell the new students that they can become like me. Not to give up …”
“I am Bubai Mandal. I am twelve years old. I live at Rajarghat Notunpara with my parents. My father Astha is a rickshaw puller and my
mother works as a rag picker. I also helped my mother to pick rags. In 2010 I left school in class three. My mother felt guilty that I worked as a rag picker but she was helpless. She always hoped for a better life for me, so she enrolled me in open school. Now I am a student there. I attend classes and participate in various activities like football and drama. I also love to learn computers.”
“I am Somnath Mondal, 12 years old. I had been working as a rag picker with my mother for a living. I live in Dhapa with my parents and two siblings. Though I didn’t like this kind of work, I had to do this to help my mother. One day I met Buddheswar sir when I was working at a rubbish dump. He told me to go to the nearest ‘Shiv Shakti Club’ where some of my friends were taking part in a drama rehearsal.This and other activities like games, studying through games attracted me to the Open School. I enrolled in Level A. Later I played a character in the drama named “Jimmedar Kaun” which gave me a lot of confidence. Open School also takes care of my health. Unfortunately I was suffering from skin disease so the community mobiliser took me to the government health department for treatment. They also provided my medicines. Now I have left the job of rag picking and work at a food stall as a helper. This is much better as I can find time for studies. I am very thankful to my teachers and Head teacher for motivating me to start my education.”
|Mainstreamed in Govt. School||Left The Hazaradous Job||Shifted From hazaradous To Safe Job||Received Life Skilled Training||ReceivedVocational Training||Dropped Out|