Education and Empowerment

Mukti primarily works in Sunderban communities located in the lap of Bay of Bengal, on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers. The literacy rate in the Sunderbans is lower than the rest of the region and the country. It has been found that only 25-30% of the entire population is literate. The infrastructure in the villages is below those in the main towns and cities. As parents and guardians are not fully aware of the importance and benefits of children’s education, they do not make the effort to send them to schools. Being poor, they find it hard to maintain the expenses of education. This increases child labour and child vulnerability and ultimately results in the increase of trafficking and violence particularly amongst girls who are victims of awful crime and exploitation. This is becoming a very common phenomenon in the Sundarban region.

Program Goal:
The Goal of the program is to increase literacy and life-skills of Sunderban people for mainstreaming development, promoting rights awareness, changing behaviour and creating employability for empowerment.

Leading projects:

1. Book Bank: Mukti launched the Book Bank project in the villages of the Sundarban region in 2003. The aim was to bring about change in society through increasing the rate of literacy and creating opportunities for livelihood and better life standard.
The key features of Book Bank are:
# School students from low income or socially backward background are provided text books on a loan;
# The text books cover classes 5 to 12;
# Once a student completes the class, he/she returns the books and they are re-issued to another needy student.

2. Talented Students Sponsorship (TSS): Mukti has been operating the TSS program since 2006 to support talented but poor students so that they can obtain higher education. Students are selected from poor families and on the basis of their academic results in the previous examinations. TSS is a sponsorship program funded by sponsors from different parts of the world. Through the TSS program, a significant number of poor and meritorious students have been sponsored for higher education. The sponsorship is designed to create a long-term relationship between the sponsors and students where Mukti serves as a bridge between the two parties. It puts every effort in approaching people to sponsor talented students from different districts of West Bengal. Thus, sponsors help students to continue their education and realize their dreams of getting proper employment and leading a dignified life.
The key features of TSS are:
# Sponsors from across the world are approached and motivated to sponsor students for higher education;
# Needy and meritorious students are chosen from the region;
# Students are provided the sponsorship to pursue their studies; and
# Sponsors are provided with updates and feedback on the progress and results of the students they sponsor.

3. Mukti Coaching Centre: Mukti has been operating Coaching Centers for poor students in the region since 2006. This is to help the poor and motivated students to better their knowledge and obtain good results at various examinations so that they can enter into higher education or professional courses. 24 teachers teach students of classes from 5 to 10 in the coaching centers. Each centre has a Centre Coordinator. A Chief Coordinator monitors the teaching program regularly, meets the teachers and students to assess various issues and provides support. He/she also develops effective networks and linkages between parents and school management committees for proper coaching and continuous learning so that the students can achieve good results.

4. Village Computer Literacy Programme (VCLP): Mukti with the support of Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. (TCS) - Maitree (Kolkata) initiated the Village Computer Literacy Program (VCLP). VCLP is designed to provide computer education to village students and youth. The project was rolled out in the high school of a small village, Kashinagar. Although most of the students were meritorious, the school could not afford a computer lab. As a result, the students lacked the basic computer skills. Similarly, VCLP was done in Hooghly.
755 students from economically backward families are enrolled in Kashinagar High School. Teachings were imparted by computer literate teachers from the school, trained initially by two MUKTI volunteers who even helped with the set-up of the computer room. The classes are organized twice a week.