Parvarish - The museum school
Strong is the new pretty and how pretty is this strong woman, you will realize when you read her story…
Lucy Larcom said “If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it” .. and that is exactly what Dr Shibani Ghosh has been doing along with her husband for the past 13 years.
Born into the household of a Bhilai steel plant employee who was the only breadwinner for a family of 7, luxuries were definitely not something Shibani was accustomed to. In fact, being the second child meant that even new books were a luxury ill afforded.
A post graduation in Eng lit was soon followed by marriage which saw her relocating to Bhopal where she did a diploma of teaching, right after which she gave birth to twins. Three years later, her husband got a lucrative job offer at delhi. He took that up and went to Delhi but she stayed back in Bhopal to take care of the kids.
It was the year 2000, when her husband came back to Bhopal and asked for her support so that he could quit his job and follow his dream of exploring different avenues to better lives and give back to society. She agreed because she believed in him and his dream and to make ends meet, started giving tuitions in various batches for 6-7 hours a day, along with taking care of the twins.
Her father in law motivated her to do a B.Ed. and it was while she was juggling family, coaching classes and her own B.Ed. studies that she came across certain schools that promoted alternative method of teaching. Also, a visit to a museum made her realise that the exhibits could be used to teach. She and her husband had already zeroed in on kids they wanted to teach, the ones that had no financial means to attain a decent education. They went to a slum entirely inhabited by ragpickers and spoke to kids and parents. While kids asked “ why study", parents were wary of losing their earnings. To sort out the parents’ issue, it was decided that the classes would be from 3-5 in the afternoon, after the kids had finished their morning work and the kids were cajoled into giving studies a chance.
Parvarish - The museum school started with 40 children but very soon after, only 4 remained. It was found that people from some other NGOs were dissuading the parents from sending their children by spraying nasty rumours about them, but since Shibani did not believe in being aggressive, she decided to continue teaching those 4.. approx two months later, the number started picking up on it's own. It was found that the children who continued learning showed such positive changes in behavior that they became ambassadors for the good work being done and other parents started showing interest.
The school initially was run on their own funds because nobody trusted them enough to fund their project.. a year and a half later some friends and well wishes started chipping in. In 2008, Tata trust liked what they were doing and came forward. Their funding went on for six years with a year's gap in between.
But in 2015, this stroke of luck came to an end. Slowly funds started dwindling, there was no diesel for the buses they had hired to get children to the museums, so children started coming on foot, teachers wanted to sacrifice their salaries in order to keep it going.
But, like they say, when you do good work, it comes back multifold. In October 2016, UNESCO chose Parvarish for Innovative education award. According to Shibani, when she was on that stage representing India and the UNESCO Chief asked her if he could take a selfie with her, it was a moment that she will never be able to put into words.
Soon UNESCO funding followed, some of which has gone into Parvarish and some into funding her next dream project which is a virtual museum school through which lakhs of students that do not have access to decent education will be able to learn.
Thirteen years and nearly 3500 students later, Parvarish, despite seeing some very difficult times, is going strong and behind all that is Dr Shibani Ghosh, alongwith her equally motivated husband, with her untiring efforts and a dream to provide education to the kids with no means so that can have a better tomorrow.
If you like the story and would like to have a look at what Parvarish- the museum school does, check out their website www.oasisorg.in
Or write into Dr Shibani at firstname.lastname@example.org