Education  India Project #32034

Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata

by Tiljala Society for Human and Educational Development
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Sultana with her mother
Sultana with her mother

Sultana is 19 years old, although she seems older. She is a natural leader in the Topsia Evening Class and one of the founding members who, in 2016, took the important decision to attend the new evening sessions the Topsia Centre and thus to continue her education beyond primary school.  Until then Tiljala SHED was only able to offer classes to children up to class 6. And typically, once a child stopped attending our classes he or she also dropped out of school

From the age of 5 Sultana attended the primary after-school classes in the centre. 90 or more small children pile into a small room and spend 3 hours every day after school singing, playing and, of course, studying. Our teachers supplement their school education as well as provide a joyful learning experience and a love of learning. We keep the children safe and productively occupied while their parents work.

The children’s mothers are very grateful and most understand the importance of education. Illiterate themselves they supplement the family income either by rag picking (collecting and selling waste), domestic work (highly exploitative, long hours and badly paid) or chappal trimming (trimming sandals for 35 pence for 120 pairs). Sultana’s mother is no different. All these families live in illegal makeshift shelters with no running water or proper sanitation beside a canal (an open sewer effectively). All any mother wants is for a better life for her children than the life of poverty, drudgery and misery she endures.

At the age of 19 Sultana is resisting society's expectation that she will drop out and get married. Her mother is very supportive but also feels the pressure to conform. We will do everything we can to ensure that Sultana can fulfil her dream of a better life.

The opening of the Evening Class, thanks to a local donor, has brought new hope for young girls and boys like Sultana and her friends. She has recently passed her class X exam and wants to remain in school for class XII and go on to college. She aspires to be a journalist although she is pragmatic and accepts that this is a high ambition.  Thanks to your generosity we are sending Sultana and 24 others to computer training, which they absolutely love and which is going some way to preparing them for the next steps and levelling them up with kids from more privileged backgrounds.

It only costs £37 or USD45 to send one of these youngsters on a 6 month computer course. Or £30 a month for all the costs of keeping one secondary age youngster fully supported in education (including all tuition fees, uniform, computer classes etc)

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Sajjat - equipped for school
Sajjat - equipped for school

What if Tiljala SHED did not run education centres in 5 of Kolkata’s most deprived communities?

See this report from Parveen, programme co-ordinator at Tiljala SHED:  “Sajjat is a 16-year-old boy residing in a slum beside the railway track near Park Circus in Kolkata, India. He is studying in Kazi Nazrul Islam High School Class X. His father is a casual labourer and his mother is a maid servant.

His father does not get regular work. He is an alcoholic and most of the money he earns is wasted on addiction. The family is dependent on the income of his mother which is not adequate. Very often the family has to compromise on food intake.

Sajjat had become a rag picker and had stopped attending school. We counselled him and his family especially his father on the importance of education. Sajjat realized his mistake and rejoined school. Now he is regularly attending school. His father was insisting that he should continue working to support the family. But he did not agree with his father. He wants to study. Besides attending school he also attends evening classes the Topsia Coaching Centre.  Sajjat is doing well in studies and has a special aptitude for drawing and painting. He is also good in sports.” 

441 children aged between 5 and 18 who live in five of Kolkata’s most marginalised communities attend classes outside school hours run by Tiljala SHED and paid for by you. Sajjat is one of these children.

I have been doing a thought experiment – what would life be like for those children if they did not have this opportunity?

Over the last 2 years of the pandemic NONE of the primary aged children (147 girls and 116 boys) would have had ANY education at all as government schools were continuously closed in Kolkata from March 2020 to February 2022.

In fact our centres remained open throughout all but the severest lockdowns providing these 263 children with a routine, remedial classes every weekday, nutrition and attention to their rights and their health and their safety. We have helped keep these children, who are highly vulnerable to dropping out, child labour and child marriage, on the path to literacy and a better future.

For the older children aged 11-18, 124 girls and 54 boys, secondary schools did open, but only for a few weeks and only for youngsters in classes 10, 11 and 12. There was no school for classes 6 – 9. Without our education centres many of these children would, like Sajjat, have drifted away from education. Many families fell into hunger and destitution because the breadwinners were unable to go to work. Even beggars and ragpickers were swept from the streets. Street vendors, maidservants, rickshaw drivers, factory workers - all daily wage earners – couldn’t work for months and their families went hungry.

But because of Tiljala SHED’s Education centres and our programme of educational support, we were able to supply smartphones to all the youngsters who needed them to access their education online. These 178 youngsters attended daily classes throughout and have stayed motivated to continue and get their qualifications. These are communities where passing board exams is unheard of, let alone going on to higher education, but this year we expect to see our first cohort do just that. There are 4 boys and 5 girls in class XI or XII with big ambitions. Without our education programme, the girls would be married, bearing children, illiterate and hopeless and the boys would be labouring, driving rickshaws or even joining gangs.

These 9 are just the start and will be an inspiration to the rest.

Thank you for supporting this programme. You have brought promise and hope to all.

You can support a primary age child for just £11 a month and a secondary school student for £30 a month.

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Mansur is 11 years old. He lives in a hut made of bamboo poles with a plastic roof and a mud floor in the Park Circus Railway Squatter community, a vast shanty town stretched out along the railway tracks beside Park Circus Station in Central Kolkata, India. Here many families subsist through rag picking, begging and other very low paid daily labour. Mansur lives with his grandmother, once a rag picker but who now begs for a living (earning just 50 – 60 rupees a day), with his parents, Shakila and Mannu, his sister and 2 uncles, aged 11 and 17. His father is a cycle rickshaw driver. He earns 5000 – 6000 rupees a month (£50 - £60).

Tiljala SHED runs after school coaching classes in its community centre right there beside the rails and Mansur is an enthusiastic attendee every day after school.

The children are fortunate to have Mehnaz as their teacher and she reports that he is a very bright boy. He is in class VII in a local government school. Schools were closed for over a year during the pandemic and many children from vulnerable families dropped out. Boys as young as 10 find menial work in factories or informal restaurants to help support their struggling families. They soon drop out of school altogether finding the money more motivating than their school work and end up illiterate and faced with a life of poverty and hard labour.

Lockdown was particularly hard for families like Mansur’s. Mannu couldn’t go out to work for many weeks when India first locked down and then when he was able to go out onto the streets there was very little work.  Tiljala SHED supported Mansur’s family with dry rations during this time.

Despite the terrible hardships Mansur and his family must have endured over the last 18 months, Mansur returned to the coaching centre as soon as it opened again and is now happily back at school.

Thanks to your support, we at Tiljala SHED will continue to provide the support and encouragement he needs to stay in education because that is his only hope for a better future.

This programme provides daily after school coaching for 600 children from extremely vulnerable households. Alongside their academic studies they enjoy singing, especially in English, art and other creative activities. Through our Child Protection programme we ensure the children are safe both inside and outside the home and we help them to understand their rights.

Thank you as ever for your generous support. It costs just £11 a month to provide all this for a child like Mansur. 

It costs £30 a month to sponsor one of our older secondary school students working towards public exams and college

We are proud of our class X and XII students
We are proud of our class X and XII students
Teacher Mehnaz with her Park Circus Class
Teacher Mehnaz with her Park Circus Class
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Sita, aged 17 years, of Class X resides with her family in Topsia There are seven members in her family headed by her father. He is a carpenter by profession. Her mother works as a maid servant.

Sita is one of the several students who attend our evening class. She is serious in her studies and wants to become a police officer. Her father is totally opposed to her staying in education. He thinks it is a waste of time for girls to study. Fortunately her mother thinks otherwise and encourages Sita to continue with her studies.

The teachers of Tiljala SHED fully support her in whatever way they can. She gets her text and exercise books free of cost. Tiljala Shed also pays her school and tuition fees. She is also in need of a smart phone so that she could participate in the online class conducted by her school. We feel that if we continue supporting her educational endeavour are sure she will achieve her dreams of becoming a police officer.


Objective of the program: Children from the rag picker community and ultra poor families have access to quality education

Activities done:

Our educational intervention has also suffered immensely. School closure has dealt a body blow to education, the consequences which may unfold in the time to come. We had to stop our classes in all our centers .This was in accordance with the directives of the government.

No one is quite sure when the world will be functional again. We have tried to keep in touch with our students during the lockdown period but it is not the same as physically being in touch with them on almost daily basis.

1. Online classes were being conducted but most of our children could not afford to buy smart phones hence they could not take part in school studies. .


2. From the month of April 2021 all education centers have been closed because of the lock down.

Total no. of beneficiaries: 441

Primary section: Class I to V – 273 students.

Secondary section: Class VI to XI - 168 students.

 OUTCOME OF THE PROGRAMME: Lessons of loss can best sum up the present education scenario. The closure of schools for long periods nearly 16 months at a stretch has meant that thousands of children have lost touch with lessons.

Distance learning and online classes are not a solution for large number of of children in lower income families. The crisis has intensified with the second wave. Children are dropping out of school in large numbers. Children often fail to follow distance learning, many forget what they have learnt especially if their parents have not been to school. 

The pandemic has exposed the inequalities in the education systems that were taken for granted before Covid struck



Objective of the program: To provide educational support to children from the rag picker community and ultra poor families to have access to quality education.

Total number of beneficiaries:20 students of Topsia Evening Class

14 are girls and 6 are boys

Activities done

• Monthly Mobile Recharge of data pack was given to students of Topsia Evening Class, who have received smart phones from Tiljala SHED to attend their online classes in school. The phones also help them to do their assignments and projects given from school.  

Due to the sudden surge in Covid cases, again started the lockdown. The state government had ordered for a shut down of the schools again from April 2021. We also had to stop running the centres keeping in mind the safety of our children. But we, the staff of Tiljala Shed keep in contact with the children on a daily basis trying to know their problems and progress. We have arranged for online classes on English, Arithmetic and fitness classes given by undergraduate college students. This has been very helpful for our beneficiaries. It is sad that other students are unable to do the classes as they don’t have access to smart phones.


• School Session Fees:  Due to Covid 19 schools were closed down. As a result the Class X and Class XI Board Examination which was supposed to be held in June this year has been cancelled. The entire students have been promoted to the next class. The Class X students are waiting to get their mark sheets from the school based on the mock test and online assignments they had submitted to school. After they get their result, they will be able to get admission in Class XI. Students who have been promoted to Class XII need to get admission in class XII after paying their requisite fees.


• Tuition Fees: We have paid the tuition fees of children under education sponsorship till June. 

• Books /Stationery:   Evening Class students of Topsia Centre under Education Sponsorship who have been promoted to their next class will be requiring new books and stationery for their new classes in July and August.

• School Bags: Although the schools are closed now and there is no idea when they will reopen, the children will be requiring school bags to keep their books etc. and to take them to th eir tuition classes. Few bags had been given in the first quarter and few will need in July/August.  

 • Bicycle:  Two students Fahim and Rohit of Topsia Evening Class requested if they can get bicycles to use for going to and from tuition classes and for school also after lockdown is over. The bicycles help in many ways.There are two more children from Mir Meher Ali Lane of Class X ,not under education sponsorship but require bicycles.


With your support the children can now dream of completing their education without which it wouldn’t be possible for their parents to bear their children’s educational expenses. They are thankful and grateful to their donors and Tiljala SHED for all the support they get.

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After school classes at the Topsia Centre
After school classes at the Topsia Centre

Kolkata’s schools are back after almost a year. The children in our communities saw their parents lose their livelihoods when the country went into lockdown. A father who cycled a rickshaw or a rag-picker mother were unable to go onto the streets to earn a daily wage. Desperate and hungry the children saw their parents queuing for food parcels and struggling to stretch their meagre rations to feed the family. In May, Cyclone Amphan swept through the Bay of Bengal destroying thousands of homes. Many of our children had their flimsy makeshift homes destroyed. And then the Topsia fire claimed another 400 homes. You wonder how a small child can recover from such a succession of disasters.

Thankfully Tiljala SHED was able to reopen our education centres and welcome the children back in September and now, at last, schools are open. There is a return to some kind of normality.

We have a very special cohort of about 50 older children who are ambitious to remain in education and to reach for a different life - beyond the slums and squatter camps. These teenagers are particularly vulnerable to dropping out, largely because of social pressures to work or to marry. They need extra support and we are delighted that a number of donors have come forward to sponsor them. Thanks to our sponsors, we have been able to provide additional tuition, bicycles, books, smartphones, English and computer classes. These children attend Evening Classes in our centres every day after the smaller children have gone home.

Throughout all of this you, our donors, have continued to support these children. When we couldn’t run classes, we were able to provide food parcels. When the centres opened again we were able to bring the children back and help them resume their education. You helped us purchase smartphones for the older children so they could access their classes online and just last week you stepped up again and provided funds so that we can give the children a healthy snack 5 days a week when they attend our classes.

Thank you so much for your continued support. It is needed now more than ever.

JustUSD80 provides daily nutritious snacks (milk, a banana or an egg) for a whole class of 30 children for a whole month.

And USD42 sponsors one of the older Evening Class students for a month.

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Organization Information

Tiljala Society for Human and Educational Development

Location: Kolkata, West Bengal - India
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @TiljalaSHED
Project Leader:
Jane Manson
Kolkata, India
$40,591 raised of $108,000 goal
456 donations
$67,409 to go
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