IDEA Foundation

Focus: Education, Children and Youth, Women

PROVIDING the means to education is one thing. But getting children from low-income families to attend school for 12 years, without dropping out, is quite another – and the idea behind this foundation.

Why is this important? After all kids and adolescents from all economic classes are known to rebel, play truant and run away. True. But the scale of the problem in India – and its causes – are what prompted co-founder and director Usha Pillai to do her PhD research on the subject, then act on it.

Latest figures show at 47million, the country has the highest number of out-of-school adolescents in the world. Coupled with the fact that India is set to have the most number of young people too by 2020 makes the mission of curbing school drop-outs an urgent one.

The economic advantage of being the youngest country on the planet will soon become a liability if a large percentage of the youth are uneducated and, therefore, unemployable.

Having started in a single slum to spread awareness about the importance of education, currently the Foundation for Initiatives in Development and Education for All work in 17 communities in and around Pune, and 20 villages in Bhor. They are currently supporting 1,034 children with educational sponsorship.

In their 19 study centres, which children attend before and after school, subjects like English, Maths and the local language, Marathi, are taught to strengthen their knowledge base.

But, more than anything, IDEA’s core intervention is identifying out-of-school youngsters, enrolling them in their centres and eventually channelizing them into mainstream schools.

Muskaan, for instance, from the Khanvasti slum in Pune was not being schooled when IDEA registered her in their local study centre. Unlettered and with little experience of social interaction with her peers, the 11-year-old remained reclusive till she was admitted to a school nearby.

Now that she can read and write, her self-esteem has grown and Muskaan happily engages with her classmates, and takes keen interest in her studies and all the activities at the IDEA centre.

Quoting late President Abdul Kalam: “The best brains of the nation may be found on the last benches of the classroom,” IDEA chairperson Shilpa Khangaonkar reiterates their commitment to educating India’s children, saying: “It is our effort to participate in finding a school bench for every child in society.”

That’s a huge, urgent task for which they need all the help they can get.

Study Centres

IDEA run 19 study centres in communities and zilla parishad schools in Pune, Bhor, Bopkhel, and Jambulpada. The objective of this programme is to identify ‘out of school’ children, enrol them in school and to provide need-based assistance to them. Currently 779 underprivileged children from classes 1 to 7 are benefitting, with a remarkable improvement in their attendance, achievement levels and interest in regular schooling. It costs IDEA Rs 3,250 per child per year.

Education Sponsorship

TO make sure poverty is not a barrier, IDEA sponsor deserving children, especially from secondary school till they complete Class 12 and, after assessment, for higher education. At present around 255 children are provided with school materials, uniforms and civic dress, school and coaching class fees and opportunities for their all round development through co-curricular activities. The cost of helping each child is only Rs 5,000 for a whole year.

Skills Development

IDEA have an employability enhancement programme where young women are given vocational training and life skill lessons. Courses, which include tailoring, fashion designing, culinary skills and computer literacy, run for three to six months. After successful completion, students are supported by IDEA in finding suitable jobs or in self-employment. IDEA trained 1,340 young women last year, giving them the opportunity to gain financial independence.

About IDEA Foundation

I earn about Rs.15,000 a month, much more than any woman in my family, making me financially independent. IDEA have given me an identity that is not restricted to familial relations: daughter, sister, wife, mother, daughter-in-law. I am an entrepreneur!

Sonali, beauty parlour co-owner, Pune

IDEA to me is not only a volunteer certificate but a beautiful journey of learning what our busy lives rarely notice. They do a great job in boosting young talent. The journey has taught me how innocent smiles of a few can bring value to our own lives.

Anuridhi Arya, volunteer, Pune

It was very important to have a partner in whom we can have confidence in both their professional work as well as administrative skills. The confidence we put in IDEA Foundation was never disappointed.

Andreas Wenzel, Sir Peter Ustinov Foundation, Germany

IDEA takes care of our children's education just like parents do. Social workers talk to us like family and provide support when we need it. Our children are confident that IDEA will support them even when we cannot.

Mumtaj, mother to Rehana, Salim and Reshma, Pune

  • Usha Pillai Director
  • Mrinal Badawe Programme Manager
  • Ancy Stephen Resource Mobilisation Manager
  • Ravikiran Patil Programme Manager