Urban Community Development Project, was started in 1979-80.


The main focus of the ISC Pune Project has been on promoting and protecting the rights of the socially & economically disadvantaged children in its project area covering the slum settlements in and around Yeravada and the brick kilns in the outskirts of the city.

Thus the mission of the Pune project is:

To create an environment and support system for the marginalized sections of society that will protect and promote the rights of the most vulnerable children from these sections of society, especially the girl child, and will help in the empowerment process of women.


Immediate Objectives:

  • To enroll and retain children in Mainstream Education and keep them out of Child Labor
  • To assist needy children cope with their studies
  • To develop reading skills in children attending Municipal schools
  • To bring about a change in gender stereo-typed behavior patterns
  • To create awareness on Child Rights & Gender issues
  • To promote children to participate in her/his own development
  • To assist mothers and care-givers in understanding the developmental stages from birth to the age of five.


Programme:

    The four main components of the programme are:
  1. ‘Aarambh’ Very Early Childhood Development.
  2. ‘Vidyadeep’ The Education programme: • Support classes in the brick kilns and slum pockets
    • School intervention for Reading and Gender sensitization
    • Advocating for the Right to Education in project communities
    • Mind enrichment through workshops and meetings for the youth
  3. ‘Sabala’ Gender sensitization and empowerment
  4. ‘Saksham’ vocational courses


Work Strategy:

  • Work at the grassroots
  • Work with Local Govt.Schools
  • Networking with other NGOs
  • Liaison with Government Agencies
  • Partnership with Corporate Sector
  • Resource Material/Documentation

‘Aarambh’ Very Early Childhood Development:

The Very Early Child Care (VECD) component to the Education is geared to look at the development stages in a child’s growth right from the start with an added focus on celebrating the birth of a girl child. Early development has also been part of the programme through ‘balwadis’ for the 3 to 5 year old and the Very Early Childhood Care Programme for mothers of babies from birth to 3 years of age

The Girl Gift Basket is a new and unique way of welcoming the birth of a girl child right at the hospital. For this, ISC got the required permission to liaise with the government run hospitals in Pune and also donors for the gift basket. Many such baskets have been distributed. We talked with each family specially the father of girl child and all those around, including the nurses, explaining to them the need for parenting a girl child as they would a boy-child. We also spoke of the importance of education for girls.

‘Vidyadeep’ The Education programme:

The educational programme in the brick kilns, provides various opportunities for children of migrant families especially academic support. The programme design consists of enrolling the children into the government schools and supporting them with additional classes to help them cope and thereby assure retention in school.

The Reading library in the support classes and the few schools is a very important component of the programme. This year too, except for some of the older children, every child from the project area, has been enrolled in the Support class conducted by ISC. ISC was permitted to conduct the ‘Read to Learn’ and Personality development programme in the neighbouring PMC schools.

The programme in Yeravada, also proves to be more and more successful in as much as most of the children in the project area are not only retained in school (the drop-out rate being negligible),but are improving their grades and showing leadership qualities.
In as nutshell, we plan as follows:
• An educational programme targeting the deprived children of migrant brick kiln labourers, who are helped to integrate into regular society by being given a rudimentary knowledge through non-formal education and preparing them for school enrolment.
• We hold support classes for the students of the schools, having problems in specific subjects, and are provided educational aids such as books, uniforms, bags, stationery etc.
• Bridge classes for those not enrolled in schools, leading to successful entry into schools subsequently.
• Reading skills through the “Read to learn’ ensures basic reading skills and inculcates a liking for reading in them.

More than 2000 children attend the ‘Vidyadeep’ Education programme that not only improves the academic grades but also helpes build many of these children into ‘Agents of Change’.
Year after year 10 to 15 students get through Std X, some even with first class results.
ISC has cooperated with some of the schools for the implementation of the Right to Education Act and even succeeded in actively becoming part of the School Management Committee (SMCs) in two instances. The frequent meetings with the parents and the school authorities has been effective in bringing about this acceptance from the parents.
Afrin Akbar Shaikh-Std IV, Arti Gaikwad Std VII and Nisha Laxman Shinde Std I -- It took the ISC field facilitators different tactics from coaxing to legal action via the RTE Act and finally convincing the parents of the importance of education, that got all the three children back to school.

ISC’s work through the eyes of the parents:

Parents are the next important stakeholders in ISC’s work with children. It is therefore important to constantly engage with the parents through monthly meetings and discussion on child development related topics. Children’s pre and post test to understand impact of the work is shared with parents. Here is what they say:

From the brick kiln parents

  1. “With our children attending the balwadi, we were more productive in our work as we did not have to look after them. Also they would play in the wet clay and that was not good”
  2. “The older children now like going to school and don’t stay home even if they need to for house work”
  3. “Because of your classes in the ‘bhatti’ our children get free classes, food and other gifts as well”
  4. “Our children can now keep accounts of our household expenses.”
  5. “Thanks to the meetings you hold with the parents, our husbands as well as the brick kiln owners no more abuse us.”

From the Yeravada slum communities:

Pranita is active in the ‘Bal Sakhi’ the child participation group that ISC has been promoted for child rights. This is what her mother has to say: ‘Pranita is confident and able to speak her mind when she notices any bad behavior.ISC’s Swapnatai is teaching children good behavior practices. Feed back from school teachers on ISC’s interventions in school: ISC helped out with a child counseling case: ‘The child has changed and improved in her studies, thanks to ISC”, says the school teacher of the Acharya Atre School in Yeravada.

‘Sabala’ Gender sensitization and empowerment

Gender sensitization is the other component interwoven into the Education programme of the Pune project. The progress made in the girls and boys gender groups showed good progress when comparing the pre and post assessment of gender and social behavior, values and attitudes. The graphs in ISC’s records vouch for the same.

Child Participation for building the capacity and confidence of children was an integral part of the programme. It aims at making older children understand development issues and relate these to child rights. Instances of children taking action and motivating their peers in school and in the community is one of the ways of making ISC’s work sustainable.

ARC – Action for the Rights of Child - the Pune center is one of the founder members of ARC, setup in 1991. The Gender programme covers this subject and today the children not only show respect to the Girl child, but also ensure that they have equal rights in all spheres of life.


Some instances of our children’s actions for child rights:

The children from the brick kiln succeeded in putting right certain wrongs in their schools. Two such occasions were:
• Approaching the Headmaster when a school teacher was demanding fees from students. This was duly corrected.
• Taking up the case of some of their peers who moved into the brick kilns and were not getting admission in school. They discussed the issue with the head master and got the children into school.

In Yeravada slums the children
• Laxmi Age 15: Shared and supported in solving of 4 cases; one of child sexual abuse, another of cruelty, a third of child marriage, and another regarding child protection. This information was crucial for ISC to get institutions like Childline, the CWC and the police department take necessary action. Laxmi is one of the 25 students of the Child participation group who is developing great leadership qualities.
• Sakshi Age 10: She took 3 children Sachin, Nisha and Durga who had dropped out of to school, back to school. She explained their situation to the teacher and got them re-enrolled in school
• Pranita age 13, Kailas age 16, Sonu age 13: Pranita talked to parents and relatives and shared child marriage law. She and her friends talked to the girl explaining to her the disadvantage of child marriage. The parents of the three were impressed with their children and told us they were proud of them.
• Pranita, Vaishnavi & Nikita: Made an RTE presentation at the press conference of Patrakar Bhavan. This news was covered in the local newspapers and DNA Lokmat news channel. The children felt confidant and proud.

Cases of child protection

Child Sexual Abuse
A 14 year old girl studying in Yerwada school was sexually abused by a married man. ISC started intervening and with the help of “Alochana”, an NGO that works on sexual abuse cases. We investigated and with Alochana motivated the girl and her mother to file a case against that man. The case was filed, all legal procedure done, and the accused is in jail under POCSO ACT while the girl is safe in a residential home. On following up the case we find that she is becoming confidant, learning new skills and developing a positive attitude towards life.

Domestic violence
One of our ISC student shared the case, where a father was severely beating the children and mother. This was affecting their studies. ISC intervened and motivated the mother to raise her voice against her husband. ‘Childline’ intervened and got the police to take action. This has brought a change in the father while ISC goes on working to improve the mother’s confidence.

Child marriage
Two child marriage cases took place in Suraksha Nagar community. We were not in time to stop the marriages but we informed the CWC who took action; they sent the protection officer to the in- laws home and made a written document for the security of these girls.

Highlights and Achievements:

Around 700 children participate in the Annual Sports Day - Bal Dhamaal - with the help of 120 volunteers from the corporate and Educational institutions. It is the most eagerly awaited event in the calendar of ISC Pune children. Excursions such as the visit to the Science Park give the children a hands-on knowledge of some of the scientific realities.

Among the different workshops held 3 of these had very positive results:
a)Workshops on de-addiction: 102 ISC youth participated in this workshop. We showed them a movie called ‘Valan’ on de addiction.
b) Theatre Workshop: Around 25 children had a 2-day Theater workshop at ISC. The outcome was seen when children made a script on Female foeticide.They performed these plays in front of ‘Ganesh Mandals’, their community, as well as their various PMC Schools during the school Assembly.

Regular expenses & future goals include:

Setting up of new temporary educational centres in brick kiln areas, Resource materials
A mobile computer van for teaching the children of our far flung centers.
Expansion of 1 more floor for our main office.

Expansion of our programs for :

  • EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
  • GENDER SENSITIZATION
  • WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
  • HIGHER EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT OF SENIOR CHILDREN
  • CULTURAL ACTIVITIES