Education for everyone – Eureka

Eureka Child Foundation has become an agent of change today; the attempts to uplift children by way of educating them, figuring proudly atop its social initiatives.

It’s an initiative that has spread to nearly 600 villages in Tamil Nadu today. Its aim: to provide basic quality education to every child, and its methodology three-pronged. In the last two years of its existence, citybased NGO, Eureka Child Foundation, has managed to achieve what few social initiatives have come close to: fulfill most of its mission, and do so in a manner that is nothing short of admirable. And in doing so, not only has the NGO managed to achieve most of their goals, but has also played a stellar role in helping other NGOs realize their dreams and goals too. “After-school education was the aim, and when we started out it was our hope that we could do our bit to educate every child out there,” says Dr A Ravishankar, Director of Eureka Child Foundation. In a nutshell, the NGO’s mission follows a three-pronged action plan: direction action, partnership and most importantly internal advocacy. However, the most visible action has been the many partnerships that Eureka Child Foundation has been involved in, more specifically with the government. “But the problem lies in quality,” says Dr Ravishankar, “In fact, that’s precisely why after-school education has assumed so much importance today – simply because most children in our schools don’t know to read a sentence properly, or even work out a simple substraction.”
But it would only be right to say that the story of Eureka Child Foundation began much before the organization was registered two years ago. The problems that the nation faced (especially the
1992 riots) prompted Balaji Sampath (Founder, Secretary, AID India) to do his bit for children’s
education and progress. When he was a student at IIT Madras, he thus began volunteering at nearby villages, teaching children a few basic subjects. It was this culture that would later go on become the driving force behind Eureka Child Foundation, even as the NGO began a slew of project launches. These included initiatives like ‘Let’s Speak English’, ‘Toy Van’ and ‘Ariviyal Anandanam’. As their names suggest such drives included holistic education in subjects like prose and science; the ‘Toy Van’ initiative ensured that such children were given access to toys.

Today, initiatives like ‘Eureka Books’, ‘Arogyam’ and ‘Eureka SuperKidz’ further the cause and mission of Eureka Child Foundation.Many would agree today, that such projects not only help achieve the objectives of basic education, but represent the growing force of innovation in the field of education. Ravishankar agrees. “One of the biggest challenges that we faced while partnering with Government-run schools, was the fact that when the supervising officer would be transferred, or left, many useful measures that he helped introduce would also inadvertently die a natural death,” he says, “That’s why, we decided that our initiatives should pass the basic longevity test, and stay true to what they set out to do.”

And for all these impressive plans, the goals of the NGO itself aren’t too lofty.“We just want to ensure that every child has a basic education,” Ravishankar says, “This is not an attempt to teach a child big things; it’s only our bit to ensure that minimum education is provided to all children today.” But what must certainly win admirers for the NGO all over, is the methodology that it adopts, through its mission of education for all. “Small things like setting goals for children to ensure on-time completion of portions, or bringing about interactive teaching methods to the classrooms really matter,” says Ravishankar. And like all social initiatives, funding is certainly a key element to the functioning of Eureka Child Foundation. Patrons can support the initiative by adopting villages, buying books and other learning material for children, and even oversee the education of children. The NGO’s goal is to reach 45,000 children in 700 villages by the end of the year. Research carried out by the NGO has also revealed that following its efforts to educate children in a more holistic manner, the number of children who began knowing to simply add numbers also increased over time, as did the number of Standard Four children who knew division and read sentences in English. Statistics have also revealed the children from Classes 5 and 6 improved their knowledge of advanced math by significant margins.

The road ahead is simple. “We want to continue doing what we are currently engaged in: providing children with the best possible basic education. We don’t have lofty plans for ourselves, or expect to do great things,” says Ravishankar, “Our ambitions, goals and aims are limited. But we are confident of achieving what we set out to do.” And there’s no doubt, that in its efforts, Eureka Child Foundation has become an agent of change today; the attempts to uplift children by way of educating them, figuring proudly atop its social initiatives. And like Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, what Eureka Child Foundation has successfully managed to achieve, is a sincere attempt to change this world one step at a time.