Parivaar Education Society
Context: The state of West Bengal exhibits some of the highest rates of household hunger in India and according to the last census, the literacy rate for men and women was less than 70%. Even though school fees are covered for grades 1-8 in India under the Right to Education Act, local schools in West Bengal have limited capacity and are seldom accessible to marginalized youth due to fees for supplies and boarding and transportation costs. Street youth and youth from tribal backgrounds have difficulty accessing quality education, especially education that teaches critical skills such as English, math and computers that are needed to compete in the labor market.
Organization: Founded in 2003, Parivaar began as a tutoring program to mainstream marginalized youth (those who are homeless, orphaned, children of prostitutes, abandoned or of tribal background) into the educational system. Parivaar provided intensive tutoring to prepare youth (ages 8-12) who were behind in their studies or had not previously attended school for highly competitive entrance examinations required for enrolment in local schools. The program was so successful that local schools did not have room to accept all of Parivaar’s youth. To address this gap, Parivaar established its own formal school, Amar Bharat Vidyapeeth. Students who come to Parivaar are first enrolled in Parivaar’s bridging program which brings them up to grade level. They must pass an entrance exam to enter the formal school and are prepared for senior secondary school entrance exams once they reach 10th grade. Teachers work closely with residential program staff to address any social or psychological issues affecting students’ studies and after-school tutoring to individual students is available.
Current Grant: EMpower’s fifth grant to Parivaar will continue to develop the Amar Bharat Vidyapeeth school by providing support for teachers to develop the skills required to teach students with special needs, developing a curriculum for the school’s expansion to the 9th grade, providing school supplies for the students, and transportation and school fees for older students (grade 9 and above) to attend secondary school.