HWF-Education Projects Promise Economic Growth

By Dr. Shiraz Sheikh

India has the second largest population and is the fifth largest economy. But economic opportunities are limited due to the gap between rich and poor. India is also the abode of world’s largest poor population. The stringent captures of poverty trap the poor in vicious circle.

Two recent studies: The UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report and the Education Commission’s Learning Generation Report produced statistical corelation on the impact of education on individuals’ earnings and economic growth. The Human Welfare Foundation (HWF) sees education as a tool of socio-economic mobility because it enhances productivity as it is associated with skill and knowledge of higher wages. Education gives base to identity, transforms and elevates a person. Therefore, the HWF embraced education as a means of freedom from the traps of poverty.

The visionary founders of the HWF believed that “an individual is mortal while ideas and institutions remains.”  Their idea was to create an institution that will bring meaningful change in the lives of the deserving needy. To materialise the idea, HWF was founded with values of compassion, empowerment, justice, and accountability for result-oriented community development work across India.  Established in 2008, HWF has become one of India’s leading nongovernmental organisations dedicated to carrying out humanitarian and development programmes to fight poverty. Their idea was to generate resources from the community and create a pool of skilled professionals to execute ideas into practice. To attain the goal of inclusive community development comprehensive projects were designed. HWF intervenes in all core developmental areas but the main issue addressed at the HWF is Education.

HWF EDUCATION PROJECTS

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that education is a fundamental human right for everyone and the Constitution of India too recognises the fundamental right of free and compulsory education. The HWF also firmly believes that education is integral to human progress and as an essential component of socioeconomic mobility. It believes that ensuring quality education will lead to awareness of healthcare, employment and means for dignified living. To attend these objectives of holistic development, the HWF has architected educational projects in a way that engages all levels of formal schooling of a child from enrolment in primary school to graduation with higher degrees of education. At the implementation level, following projects are operationalised under education:

ELEMENTARY EDUCATION

  • Schooling Enrolment Programme;
  • Community Learning Centre/ One Teacher School; and
  • Establishment of / Support to Primary Schools.

The objectives of elementary education programmes are to increase the number of school-going children. We build and reconstruct schools and educational facilities and ensure to create a healthy teaching environment. The Community Learning Centres and One Teacher Schools are set up in slums or slum-like places having 2-3 classrooms with adequate facilities. The aim of this project to impart basic education to the out-of-school children in order to make them ready for formal education.

SECONDARY EDUCATION

  • Establishment of / Support to Secondary School;
  • Scholarships for Needy Students;
  • Scholarships for Orphan Students; and
  • Award for Academic Excellence

We build/support secondary schools in the most backward districts and rural areas of the country where schools are not available or far from the target region. Under our Capacity Building Projects ill-equipped existing schools are rehabilitated by providing them with necessary funds to develop their basic minimum infrastructure. Under this project we build Classrooms and Laboratory, set up Computer Lab and Library and support them with Furniture like students’ desks and chairs. Besides institutional projects, individuals are supported with scholarships and career guidance.

HIGHER EDUCATION

  • Establishment of Higher Education Institutions;
  • UG Scholarships;
  • PG Scholarships;
  • Special Scholarships; and
  • Innovation and Skill Training Centre – ISTC.

Under the HWF Campus Project, multipurpose campuses have been built in six states. A campus is envisaged to impart inclusive education from schooling to degree level. A campus encompasses residential and day boarding school, Hostel Facilities for students, and Vocational Training. Besides campus project, thousands of undergrad and postgraduate students are supported with scholarships.  

A gap has been observed between the academic curriculum and actual requirement in industry. Recognising this gap, the HWF has established ISTC that offers skill development courses in ANM, Computer Applications, Graphics and Digital Marketing and vocational training in Electrician, Plumbing and Carpentry. The objective of this initiative is to improve the employability and entrepreneurship skills of aspirants. 

CENTRE FOR TRAINING AND ACADEMIC GUIDANCE (CTAG)

The target areas of HWF education projects are focused on rural areas, tribal hinterland, and tier two cities. During its education interventions, it found wide awareness gap about career options among the students. Most students are aware of traditional fields like medicine, engineering, law, IT, and management but knows less about other field options. Students’ carrier is shaped by the decisions of their teachers, parents and mentors. There is paucity of trained career councillors who can guide students make the correct career decision. Therefore, the HWF established Centre for Training and Academic Guidance (CTAG) to impart coordinated career awareness activities for the welfare and strengthening of socio-economically backward students.

The CTAG works at multiple levels:

Individual Level: Under this initiative, students can contact CTAG career councillor through social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Web Portal. Their queries regarding courses, universities and career are resolved by the professional councillor.

Group Level: As students are not aware of options like career counselling, CTAG conducts Counselling and Training programmes for parents, schools and teachers so they can guide students.

Trainers Training: At this level teachers and volunteers interested to become career guides are trained. This programme enhances delivery capacity as CTAG has limited resources to reach out certain areas.

Mentorship programmes:  Students who opt for this programme are assigned a volunteer mentor who guides them for three-four years to navigate their career.

Research Guidance Programme: It promotes research by motivating students to conduct research and support them through research methodology workshops, dissertation writing workshops and connects them with field experts.

HWF IMPACT

On its fruitful journey HWF faced many challenges. But true to their conviction, the HWF interventions brought remarkable changes in the lives of thousands of students. The hard work of dedicated workforce at HWF resulted in satisfactory outcome. In the last one decade and a half the Foundation has left measurable qualitative impact on society. Thousands of students could complete their schooling and higher degrees with its scholarships support, thousands of orphans were supported to complete their education. Under Career and Counselling initiative, students from remotest areas are connected with resource persons and mentors. Today thousands of queries from students are resolved on daily basis. A dedicated network of volunteer-mentors is there to guide those who seek it.

For success of our interventions, we forge a partnership with the community. So far, the reception is overwhelming. The Foundation [hwfindia.org] grew with its honest intent, transparency, dedicated workforce, professional execution, a receptive community and above all generous donors. However, a lot needs to be done. Given the scale of challenges of poverty, the march of change must continue.

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