Ek Tara began its journey in 2011 with a small group of children and women from impoverished families in the slums of Topsia and Tiljala in Kolkata, in the Indian state of West-Bengal. Ek Tara aims to provide high-quality holistic education to enable community transformation. Starting with just 20 beneficiaries, Ek Tara now has 950 children as a part of its programme and projects.
2. What’s in a name?
Ek Tara means ‘a star’ in Bengali and that’s exactly what the organisation is aiming to do: allowing kids from the community to shine!
3. Opportunity Collaboration
Ek Tara was founded by Vinita Saraf and Namrata Sureka. During an Opportunity Collaboration conference in Ixtapa in Mexico in 2015, Vinita met with Mobile School founder Arnoud. After a few discussions, it was crystal clear that both organisations were eager to set up a partnership to create more impact in the communities in Kolkata. The idea for the first-ever Indian mobile school was born!
4. Indian Mobile School Pioneers
After a successful prospective visit in Kolkata in 2016, Mobile School and Ek Tara decided to become official partners and start up the very first Indian mobile school. Since then, the organisation has conducted over 220 interventions on the street and in the communities and the team is constantly looking for ways to reach more kids and maximise the impact of their project.
5. Incredible India
The team of Ek Tara reaches out to children in the slums of Topsia and Tiljala. Why it’s important to directly target these areas? In West-Bengal, 33% of the state population lives in 3500 registered and unregistered slums. Most of the inhabitants come from neighbouring states such as Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha to look for more economic opportunities and are making a living from unskilled and seasonal labour earning an average monthly income of about 70USD.
6. Focus on Girls
“Her abilities, endless possibilities” is the catchphrase of the organisation, clearly highlighting the focus of Ek Tara to make quality education accessible to girls in the community. Moreover, the organisation is almost entirely managed by a team of extremely strong women. Indian girl power!
The mobile school is part of the community outreach programme of Ek Tara, but the organisation is doing a lot more! In their education programme, they run a Montessori school, a primary school, a non-formal education project, a school support project and extracurricular activities such as drama, storytelling, music and dance. Moreover, Ek Tara focuses on nutrition, health and hygiene in their work with the children and involves their mothers by organising an adult literacy programme and a mothers’ forum.
8. Social Enterprise
The mothers of the Ek Tara learners are trained in the Ek Tara Creates programme. In 2018, 60 women took part in the programme to be trained in different skills, such as tailoring to earn some money. Ek Tara aims to give these women a platform to sell their handmade products in order to boost their self-confidence and to acquire financial independence.