How difficult is it to open a new school? And can a group of enthusiasts actually achieve the feat? Most people would probably argue they couldn’t. However, we must understand that each organization (however big) consists of nothing else but people–individuals. So if a big organization can start a new school (a local government, ministry, etc.), than a group of independent people can do it as well, if enthusiasm and skill is present. Manish, together with his friends, decided to go for such a feet in the suburbs of Manila.
Their reasons were rather ordinary though–they wanted to start a school simply because their children had no other place to go. The nearest elementary that still accepted new students was 40 kilometers away. We were lucky enough to meet Manish and discuss his plan. It can give inspiration to those of you who may consider starting their very own educational institution as well.
Everything starts with money. Or no?
Most people believe that every project starts with a budget. Manish, however, was quick to dismiss the idea. According to his experience, you need to have a plan first. Complete plan of your educational institution, presenting not only the unique selling point, but also all details regarding the classrooms, subjects, your principal goals and staff you want to recruit to teach and run the school.
Once the plan is done, you need to prepare your sales pitch, or sales presentation. Investors aren’t going to waste their time with forty pages long business plans. At least not on the first meeting…. They want to hear quickly what you are coming with, and how can they benefit from being involved in the project (benefits aren’t always limited to financial gains; reputation, recognition, positive PR can also convince the investors). You should also prepare a list of possible sponsors to address with your offer, and a sum of money you’ll try to reach art the end of fundraising.
Money are just the beginning
Manish emphasized that getting money doesn’t guarantee the success of the project. Many such projects started but have never been completed, for various reasons. Sometimes a low budget estimation resulted in an inability to complete the tasks, and sometimes people weren’t able to work according to the plan. That’s why it is crucial to know your core team from the very beginning, and cooperate only with people who you can rely on in a long term. A school can’t be started in a month….
Once you have a plan, money, and a right team, it’s all about work. Finding location, trying to get a good rent (state owned properties are your best bet in this case), planning the classes, recruiting the teachers. More tasks have to be done simultaneously, and having someone with project management skills in a team is virtually a must.
School is ready to open the doors. What’s next?
If you find yourself in Manishes’ shoes, meaning that you establish a school on a place where parents struggle to find one, you don’t need to do much to get students. A few ads in local newspapers and help from the municipality will be enough to get the school going.
If you have a different plan, however, aiming for something extraordinary–like an educational institute, your work is far from being done. Marketing skills will come handy in this phase of the project, since you need to do a lot to gain attraction of students, or their parents. Remember, education can be pretty lucrative, so you won’t be the only one trying to attract the students.
If you are to have any chance, you need to show your prospects why it makes sense to study at your institute, and how they’ll benefit from the studies in their life later on.
Starting a school is a complex process which requires years of planning and execution. This article should give you just a broad idea about what to focus on if you are to succeed in it….
We all know how standard education works in India. The focus is on theory. Children learn the same subjects for centuries, math, physics, biology, history, etc. It goes this way from Elementary to Secondary to High School. And University is not much different–the theory again.
A group of pioneers led by Payam from New Delhi tries to break the trend. They plan to establish several 21st century educational institutes around India. Payam believes that the educational system is outdated, and needs a complete re-haul. Former successful businessmen, he and his investors have enough money to establish the institutes. They plan to open their gates for both paying and government-supported students. In the moment they negotiate with the district government to receive the same financial support per student as traditional schools are granted. The result of these negotiations will determine whether they’ll pursue with the project or not. But the plan is already set….
Mix of theory and practice
Payam’s group plans to connect traditional subjects with innovative one, adding manual skills to the healthy mix. They consider the current generation in India as ‘over-technical’, lacking both the communication skills ans social skills, and most importantly lacking handicraft. Payam hopes to bring back joy to Indian households, and make young people talking again. India, long famous for the sales skills and handicraft, has lost the reputation for both of these in recent decade.
Teachers from the ‘street’
Another innovation Payam looks to introduce is hiring a mix of traditional teachers (those holding masters or bachelor degree in teaching) and experts from practical life, as part time teachers. Successful businessman, craftsmen, salesmen should find some time to share their knowledge with the pupils from the institute, moving their legacy further. By bringing in people who actually achieved successes in their respective fields, Payam believes to help the children finding positive role models, and to actually learn (and observe) skills and abilities that are needed for success in 21st century.
Overcoming legal barriers and problems
The biggest issue Payam’s model faces is bureaucracy. Money are easily spent in India, on all kind of things, but education has stayed in a limbo for a long while. Payam finds it hard to break the spell, since most people are satisfied with how things work at the moment. ‘India is moving forward as a country’, they insist. They say that the country is prospering on a global scale.
Payam, however, believes that success of the country should not be measured purely by economics, and that other variables–such as happiness of general public, the variety of activities, the cultural heritage, the quality of relationships, etc. play more important role than the GDP and other economic measures so often cited by the government.
Sometimes we can find ourselves satisfied with how things work in our family, in our city or country. But the one who stops moving forward actually falls backward, since others are moving forward and passing him on their way. Clever businessmen and leaders do not wear pink glasses on their heads. They understand the problems of modern India, and come up with suggestions on how to make things better. We should follow their example and support their ideas.
Carla always wanted to teach. She experienced a great schoolteacher at the secondary school, and decided to follow in her footsteps. She opted for University studies, pursuing her degree in education. She succeeded and as a twenty-two years old fresh graduate started her career teaching at the local secondary school.
Carla enjoyed her time with children a lot, but found it hard to build a strong bond with her pupils (similar bond she had experienced with her former teacher). The classes were simply too big…. That was, unluckily, the standard in New Delhi, a place where she had moved after getting married. Many children and lack of quality schools necessarily result in classes of thirty of even forty children. Soon enough. Carla found it difficult to be a good teacher, and struggled to find satisfaction in her daily life.
Having a child has changed Carla’s life
Carla gave a birth to a beautiful daughter. She was healthy on the first glance, but it took her a bit too long to start walking, and later to start talking. When two years old, Leena was diagnosed with down syndrome. She required a special care, and a special school.
Just when Carla hoped to end her maternity leave and resume teaching, new challenges appeared in front of her. ‘What’s next?’ she asked herself, not knowing what to do. She wanted to continue her career in education, and she also had a great support from her husband, who suggested to work form home and stay with the child.
But Carla decided to change her career, to specialize. She enrolled in special education studies,hoping to learn how to care for her own child better, and possibly improve the situation of other children that had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome in India.
Joining the school for children with special needs
After finishing her second studies, and after priceless practice she had with her own daughter Leena, Carla was ready to return to school. She joined the single educational institution dedicated to special needs in her district. The classrooms were much smaller here, up to ten children. Carla immediately saw the opportunity to teach the way she always wanted. She soon built a personal bond with each child, and led them on their difficult way.
She also quickly understood the many myths about Down Syndrome were just that-myths. In contrary to the opinion of general public, people suffering from this condition can actually find their place in society and get a job. She discovered good role models, such as American singer Chris Burke, or Spanish actor Pablo Pineda, who actually managed to graduate from University despite being diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
Carla spent a lot of time consulting people from NDSS, trying to understand the best ways how to help the children to break the barrier. Soon enough, Leena joined the school… But Carla wanted to do more, She consulted people from specialeducationinterviewquestions.com , who offered her a databases of teachers that worked successfully with special needs pupils all around the world. She started a discussion group with these people, and the initiative is called Special Needs in India. The members are trying to bring innovation to special education and make it better within the country.
Sometimes the difficult experiences of life lead us towards our true calling. So be thankful for them, and enjoy doing what you like to do.
Nothing comes granted for kids born in slums. Most of them suffer diseases due to bad hygiene and lack of food. They rarely receive formal education, they can neither read nor write. Public says that once you’re born in a slum, your destiny is set–and it is not a good omen.
Some children manage to break that quote though. They find their way out of poverty. It is no bed of roses, and they have to sacrifice a lot to escape the life in the slum. Once they succeed, however, they typically say their sacrifice was worth it–and it doesn’t matter how much they had to sacrifice.
Ipsy was an ordinary kid from the slums of Mumbai. His parents left him alone when he was five. He spent his days hanging around, begging for food. When the Red Cross workers found him during one of their visits of the biggest slum of Mumbai, Ipsy was seriously malnourished and sick.
They decided to give him a helping hand, taking him out of the slum for a month, to their center in the city, so he could recover. They treated him well, he slept in a bed, and he quickly understood that life existed outside of the slum.
I want to live like you
The experience changed Ipsy’s expectations of life, and himself. He started to attend the school, walking six miles from slum every morning and six miles back. Red Cross paid for his clothes and shoes. Ipsy spent his weekends collecting various stuff directly in the streets of Mumbai, and selling his merchandise to the locals for some cheap change. He managed to get himself some books and food for the money he made.
Ipsy not only learned to read and write, he actually finished the elementary school. And he decided to continue. His life was stressful and tiring, but the goal he carried in his mind empowered him on his journey. Ipsy dreamed of graduating from the University, with the masters degree in teaching. And so he studied hard, worked hard, walked a lot, and slept a little. One day, he finally managed to graduate from the University. He was an accredited teacher!
Starting school in the slum with the help of Red Cross
Ipsy contacted the people from Red Cross immediately, suggesting they started a small school directly in the slum. He was to be a head teacher, and he accepted to be paid a minimum wage. Red Cross agreed to his proposal and soon enough, the Western Slum of Mumbai had its own primary school. Two other teachers joined Ipsy.
Children swarmed in like bees, and the first lesson was Ipsy’s life story– to inspire them and show them that they can achieve their dreams and live outside of the slum one day. Just then they started to learn how to write and read.
Ipsy rented a small apartment five kilometers from the slum, where he lives with his friend. His life is still busy and tiring, but he sees a purpose in what he does, and the purpose motivates him to continue working hard. Maybe, one day, children in slums will receive the same education as they contemporaries outside–they won’t be handicapped anymore.
The talents are everywhere–even where you wouldn’t expect them
Ipsy was born in a slum and abandoned by his parents. An accidental meeting with Red Cross workers showed him that there’s life outside of the slum, and that he doesn’t have to suffer. Without proper upbringing and healthcare, he managed to change his life, study, and become a respected teacher in Mumbai. If a guy from a slum can do it, you surely can. Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams!