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Home » January 2016 » Elementary education is the need of the hour: Shaheen Mistri

Elementary education is the need of the hour: Shaheen Mistri

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CAMPUS: A movement to build a new generation of leaders who will eliminate educational inequality and enable all the children in the country to get a basic elementary education is the need of the hour, according to Shaheen Mistri, founder, TeachforIndia.

At present volunteers from 484 colleges and 828 corporates work for TeachforIndia. The work of the volunteers is based on an evaluation that tests whether it will be sustainable over a longer term of 10-20 years, she said.

Shaheen shared some alarming statistics of education in India, where 42 per cent of the kids in India don’t even complete elementary school, while 90 per cent of the kids do not enter college.

“This is our biggest shame and opportunity,” she exclaimed. “If we do not have enough lawyers, journalists, politicians who catalyze to become the leaders for the children, let’s just keep working towards achieving it,” she said.

She was speaking on Monday at the inaugural session of the week-long ChangeMaker Week 2016 event organised at SJC by the Ashoka Innovators for Public Foundation and in her view, “All the children in the country deserve to be sitting here just like you all are sitting here.”


Shaheen Mistri addressing the students during the ChangeMaker Week at SJC. PHOTO:REEVAN

Mistri, who has been on the journey to bring education to young people in India for 25 years, narrated some life-changing stories. She described how her relationship with two children – Priyanka and a boy who sold candles in Mumbai – had made her a better person. “I used to be harsh on myself, to push myself forward. Now I have understood the real meaning of the words love, wisdom, and compassion.”

Another speaker at the event was Anshu Gupta, founder of the NGO Goonj. He spoke of the serious issue of women’s hygiene and safety. He said a visit to a village in North India made him realize that 88 per cent of the women in India were not aware of sanitary pads. Jute bags, newspaper, polythene, cow dung and other materials were used as substitutes for the pads. This led to dangerous consequences, including deaths. “Two women sharing a saree is still predominant, let alone blouses and petticoats,” he noted.

Moving down from the level of high seriousness, the auditorium resonated with laughter as Vasu Primlani, a stand-up comedian and environmentalist, entertained the crowd.

The day ended with a vibrant dance performance by the students of St.Joseph’s College.

-Srimathi P and Shirsha M



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