Huge enrollment in BMC Balwadis across Mumbai in 2019

● Latest data demonstrates nearly 80% increase in student strength between September 2018 and October 2019

● Girl student enrollments up nearly 23% till October

Mumbai: The Municipal Corporation for Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and Ampersand Group celebrated one year of success of Public-Private Partnership recently with an event organised for the balwadi students at the Oshiwara Upper Primary Marathi School, Jogeshwari, Mumbai.

The MCGM which operates 900 balwadis in the city had entered in a partnership with various not-for-profit organisations led by the Ampersand Group to oversee the development of balwadis and had allotted over 575 balwadis to these organisations.

The balwadi students, aged three-six years, demonstrated their learning abilities with interactive sessions curated by their teachers who are trained by the Ampersand Group, which included song and dance sequences, rhymes, art and craft themed on the occasion of Christmas and the eve of the New Year.

Since over a year, the Ampersand Group led NGOs have made huge inroads into the formative years of the child with their outreach programmes across the city. The balwadis which were witnessing a slump prior to their intervention were bolstered by modern-day teaching concepts, interactive learning mechanisms, and e-learning facilities along with teacher training modules which have brought them on par with the latest teaching and learning methods.

This eventually led to higher enrollment across the city balwadis with the growth in the student strength increased by 80 percent from September 2018 to October 2019. In addition, the enrollment of the girl child too recorded a significant increase of 23 percent. The total enrollment has also grown – from 10,222 students in September 2018 to 18,215 in October 2019.

Rustomjee Kerawalla Foundation (RFK), a part of the Ampersand Group was allotted 101 balwadis from the above has leveraged its academic expertise and operational experience in constructing and smoothly running these schools, while also assisting several other NGOs which are involved, thereby achieving a significant tangible improvement in the MCGM balwadis.

Speaking about the success of the initiative, Mr. Mahesh Palkar, Education Officer, MCGM stated, “The project was executed in a phased manner and with each year, we have continued to add more balwadis under this initiative. It led to significant growth in enrollment under this programme, but what is equally heartening is the overwhelming response from girl students and their enrolment growth rate. This is in line with our vision to deliver quality pre-primary education to all; regardless of socio-economic background and gender.”

Highlighting the association with MCGM, Mr. Rustom Kerawalla, Chairman, Ampersand Group said, “As per UNESCO, India still ranks significantly low in the world, with a literacy rate of around 75%. We are committed to bridge this gap and are delighted to partner with MCGM in their initiative to provide better infrastructure, modern learning content, enhanced levels of teaching and lastly, a favourable teacher-student ratio.”

He further added, “A tracking system for greater accountability and responsibility has now been integrated into the programme, by assigning supervisors for balwadis, who are required to carry out routine visits to centers, thereby ensuring that the deliverables are implemented daily in an expected manner, while performance indicators of students on cognitive and neuromotor learning are also measured accurately. This has resulted in a robust system and has also enabled the foundation to measure both, teaching and learning outcomes at an individual level through a transparent mechanism. The initiative will hopefully be a benchmark for larger national-level programmes in the future.”

Balwadis are increasingly becoming a center for enriching and modern learning experiences for children. The success story of this PPP initiative is expected to add more balwadis in the fold across the country. In the coming years, foundations like RKF will go a long way in building a robust and contemporary learning environment for toddlers and young children.