What's MAD all about?
The Make A Difference project was initiated by a few of us in our second
year of college when we saw a large disparity in the way rich
and the poor learned. We realized that the system created
a gap from the very early years of a child’s life and
as time passed by, the gap only increased. We saw a huge untapped
resource amongst us youngsters who if provided the right platform
were capable of bridging the gap. Hence 20 of us in the city
of cochin founded Make a Difference with a vision “To
bridge the inequality in society through education.”
India has one of the highest drop out rates in the world.
Even though over 70% of our children enroll for primary education,
72% of them would have dropped out by the time they reach
standard 10. But being first generation learners, education
is most critical for this 72%.
In Make a Difference, we currently focus on India’s
urban underprivileged, particularly children in street shelters,
orphanages, and poor homes. Our children are street smart,
intelligent and mature. Yet hardly any of them get the opportunity
to continue their education after 10th. This is primarily
due to two reasons.
First is the lack of financial support. Most children are
taken care of only till the age of 15, after which they are
on their own. The education they receive till then is very
generic and provides them with no specific skills, which forces
them into doing menial jobs for a living.
Second, and more important reason why even the children who
are sponsored cant cope up is the lack of quality education.
Our children go to schools where the medium of instruction
is in the vernacular language till 10th. But after 10th, the
medium is compulsorily in English and most jobs have English
language proficiency as one of its basic requirement. Hence
even if we are able to sponsor students with good scores for
higher education they are unable to cope. The bridge here
is the English language.
Our aim is to ensure the underprivileged children are brought
into the main stream so they can chose their careers based
on their potential and interests and not their financial constraints.
Our English course is a five level program of 100 hours each.
Every year our children go through 56 interactive classes of
two hour duration. By the end of the 5th level the child’s
communication skills will be at par with a private school
student. We have an active placements program that runs side
by side to keep the children aware of their career options
and keep them motivated to study harder. We have initiated
our computer program in Cochin where we have computers in
the ratio 6:1 installed in every centre which means every
child will get half an hour of computer class every day.
Our aim is to ensure a 100% retention rate in Indian schools.
Currently we work in 11 districts in India with over 800 volunteers,
teaching 2500 children. We plan to reach out to 10,000 children
in the coming year.