Adding a new country to the Mobile School portfolio is always special. What makes it even more special is that the 25th partner country is India. With a population of 1.3 billion people, ‘Incredible India’ has the second largest population in the world, after China. If you consider that 50% of this gigantic population is younger than 25 years, you can quickly conclude that the Indian streets are filled with an enormous potential.
In reality, many of these youngsters grow up in precarious conditions. Official numbers are hard to come by, due to practical reasons, but statistics of the 90s report 11 million street children, presumably an immense underestimation of the real number of youngsters currently growing up in a street context in metropolises such as Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai or Kolkata.
Mobile School in Kolkata
After one day on the streets of an Indian metropolis, it’s clear that there are many different target groups for the mobile school: children living on the streets full-time, working children, street families and children growing up in small or big slums. On top of that, a lot of children migrate from the countryside to the cities – often using the extensive train network with its gigantic and chaotic train stations – to look for new opportunities for themselves and for their families. Consequence: more competition in the streets of the big cities!
The first Indian mobile school will be operating on the streets of Topsia and Tiljala in Kolkata. Our brand new partner EkTara will use the mobile school in these two slums to discover and develop the talents of the youngsters they work with. The fast-growing organisation was founded in 2011 and runs an educational center, offering both primary education to girls and
vocational training to women. To reach even more youngsters and to get a stronger foothold in the neighbourhood, EkTara and Mobile School decided to join forces after the exploratory expedition in May 2016.
With success: the first sessions in Kolkata sizzled with energy! Thanks to a very young and dynamic team of no less than 16 street educators, the organisation established over 400 contacts with children from the slums in the first 2 weeks. The mobile school was warmly received at the different locations by people of all ages and after the first sessions, both the youngsters and the street educators were elated and impatient for the future mobile school sessions.
What’s more, is that this is only the beginning of our Indian story. After the successful implementation in Kolkata, we did an exploration in Greater Noida, 40 km southeast of capital New Delhi. After the very promising start in Kolkata, we were able to establish contacts in the capital itself, to potentially start up a second mobile school in India. Our goal: more fun, more empowerment and more positive contacts to boost the self-esteem and talents of Indian youngsters on the streets!