Manzil and Mobile Creches: Providing Educational Opportunities for India’s Youth
Recently, IDP Foundation had the opportunity to attend the International Education Funders Group (IEFG) Spring Meeting in New Delhi, India, a week-long meeting that allows a network of foundations and donor-advised funders to come together and discuss how to best support education in the Global South. Specifically, the meeting focused on scaling up for quality learning and teaching.
One feature of IEFG we particularly enjoyed was their choice to build program site visits into the conference agenda. During the meeting, we had the opportunity to visit Manzil and Mobile Creches to observe the work both organizations are doing to provide educational opportunities for India’s youth. Manzil is a non-profit organization in New Delhi’s Khan Market that works to fill the gap in after-school classes in arts education. Notably, Manzil is peer-led; they themselves describe it as a place “where ‘learner’ and ‘teacher’ are not fixed positions, but roles that each one of us takes at different times, and where both roles are equally respected.” Not only do students have the flexibility to direct components of their studies, they also transition into teacher roles over time.
Manzil was a wonderful demonstration of how students can explore their passions and develop their skill set in a peer-led learning environment, and the talented students were eager to welcome us with performances showcasing their artistic talents!
Manzil students performing
We also visited a Mobile Creches center to see the work being done in the early childhood education sector. Mobile Creches’ first creche was established at a construction site, where unskilled migrant laborers went to work and their wives and children would wait. The organization’s work falls under three focus areas: the free childcare programming at construction sites; training communities, NGOs, and state organizations to provide holistic childcare across Northern India; and advocacy at state and national levels to improve government services. Since their establishment in 1969, Mobile Creches’ impressive reach includes establishing 650 daycare centers, partnering with 200 builders to ensure clear provisions for the creches, and training 6,500 women as childcare providers.
This site visit also gave us a chance to carry out a mock Annual State of Education Report (ASER). ASER is the largest household survey of children done in India by citizen groups, and is the only annual source of information to gauge elementary school-aged children in the country. We surveyed local community members’ children, which afforded the unique opportunity to not only to become familiar with the ASER process, but also analyze the educational landscape captured by the collected data.
While Manzil and Mobile Creches function quite differently, their end goal is clearly the same: provide India’s children (who may not otherwise be afforded the opportunity) with access to early childhood education, basic education, and extracurricular activities. Their work, in conjunction with the data collected via ASER, directly contributes to a number of the targets listed under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #4, which aims to ensure inclusive, equitable, quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all. Combined with the energy of the IEFG members, who are eager to share information and enact change, we left India feeling inspired by the progress that has been made thus far.