The leader of India's charter school movement, Akanksha Foundation, participated in the recent Clinton Global Initiative Conference for the second year in a row. Meeting after meeting this year I have heard 'Haiti! Africa! India!' Buzz about India often revolves around the Akanksha Foundation.
Akanksha Foundation's Vandana Goyal explained to those assembled the need for educating India's less privileged children. Photo courtesy JINGO Media, credit: Archana Desai.
Akanksha Foundation children practicing yoga. Photo: Akanksha Foundation.
Recognized as 'NGO of the Year' in 2010 by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Resource Alliance, Akanksha is a Mumbai-based institution providing high-quality education to children from low-income communities in urban India, enabling them to maximize their potential and transform their lives. Corporations and NGOs make commitments at CGI and last year this organization made a commitment here to open 15 schools by the year 2015. They will be able to fulfill that commitment by the end of 2013.
The audience was able to sponsor children based on their photos flying across the restaurant. Photo courtesy JINGO Media, credit: Archana Desai.
Board Member Ramesh Srinivasan with Akanksha's Associate Development Director Shuchi Vyas. Photo courtesy JINGO Media, credit: Archana Desai.
Akanksha now serves approximately 4,000 children and is growing through its after school centers and schools in Mumbai and Pune each year. Twenty years ago, Akanksha centers were formed with the vision to supplement serious gaps in the formal school system and the intent to make learning fun. Today, Akanksha and its partners run 13 full-time schools in Mumbai and Pune, an increase from nine schools last year. They serve families in 45 communities and employ more than 375 teachers with a respectable student-to-teacher ratio of 1:27.
Akanksha students in the classroom. Photo: Akanksha Foundation.
Supporters and sponsors at Akanksha VIP cocktail reception at Devi Restaurant in New York. Photo courtesy JINGO Media, credit: Archana Desai.
So when I was invited to their VIP cocktail reception at Devi Restaurant, to interview its C.E.O. Vandana Goyal, how could I say no? Vandana told me:
We have exceeded expectations by fulfilling our commitment two years ahead of schedule.
By ensuring the model is delivering the highest quality education to the poor while being scalable and replicable, these schools have the potential to serve as catalysts for education reform across the country.
Using evidence from the schools, the extensive training process, and the public-private partnership model to advocate for policy changes, Akanksha is pioneering the charter school system in India, one child at a time.
The author with Akanksha Foundation C.E.O. Vandana Goyal. Credit: JINGO Media.
Photo courtesy JINGO Media, credit: Archana Desai.
When I first left Wall Street in 2005 following the Indian Ocean Tsunami in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, I was convinced I needed to build my own projects around the world to help children in need. I was wrong. I grasp now that it is by supporting local initiatives such as the leader in India's charter school movement -- the Akanksha Foundation -- and its founder, thought leader and global citizen Vandana Goyal, I can have a far greater impact on helping humanity. Last spring my foundation kicked off its Afghan Fund and I believe by March 2013 we will be able to launch our India Fund to support groups from Bodhgaya to Mumbai.
See Stories by Jim Luce on:
Children | Education | India |
International Development | Social Responsibility
The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org) is the umbrella organization under which The International University Center Haiti (Uni Haiti) and Orphans International Worldwide (OIWW) are organized.