Project Lightbulb is an initiative aimed to transform a classroom in Nehru Nagar English Municipal School, Kurla into a learning centre. This learning centre will have a library, computers, teaching aids, educational games, worksheets, etc. that can be used to stimulate a child's mind. Most of the students that study in this school come from very low-income families who reside in slums near the railway station, hence they have very little or no exposure to encyclopedias, activity books and even story books. This initiative will directly affect 550 children.
Having been a Teach For India fellow in this school for close to two years, I have been exposed to certain trends, disturbing statistics and shocking events. For instance, no one in our 6th Grade classroom can speak English despite them having to read English textbooks that talk about gravity, integers and our constitution. There will always be a teacher or two missing from their classrooms on any given day - these teachers are often sent out to attend training sessions or carry out official duties during school hours. What happens to the kids when they don't have a teacher present so often? The sad truth is that many kids decide to miss school altogether, they don't see value in attending school when no one's present to teach them. For those who do show up, they are made to sit in the other classrooms and read their textbooks silently. Lastly, in a school building that houses 8 schools in total, not a single school has a library, or even a cupboard full of books that can be accessed by our students.
I conducted a pilot study in my own 4th Grade classroom last year. Through small donations, I managed to collect a few hundred second-hand books for my classroom. Over the past year, my kids have grown to love reading, and the kind of ideas they generate on reading these books are apparent in their writing books when I see stories about alien abductions and adventures to the moon. I also see tremendous improvement in their reading comprehension levels and spoken English. I see wonder when they ask me if they can take the 'Big Book of Experiments' home so that they can try to observe air pressure using a water bottle and a straw.
After a lengthy discussion with my Principal, we decided to launch the Project Lightbulb initiative. This project will ensure that each and every child in our school gains access to a library, computer courses, educational videos and acitivity sheets. We envision the Lightbulb Room to be a colourful one, where students have a chance to be whoever they want to be and to do whatever interests them. When teachers are absent (even if it is for an hour or two), students can spend their time in a fruitful way by using the various facilities in the Lightbulb Room.
As of now, many generous donors and organizations have already reached out to contribute to our initiative in many ways. For instance, Citibank has donated 5 computers to our cause, ToyBox has donated over 500 storybooks and encyclopedias, Sophia College has collected close to 300 books for our kids, individual donors have stepped forward to donate art supplies, educational video CDs and books. The response has been tremendous and that response is what gave us the confidence to launch this online fundraising page.
All funds collected through this page will be used to convert a classroom of our school into the Lightbulb Room. This will include furniture such as cupboards, cabinets, book shelves, computer tables, tables and stools (for the kids). This will also include the redevelopment of the peeling walls of the classroom and the painting of the room. Any surplus funds will be used to purchase dictionaries and teaching aids.
All contributors will receive weekly updates as we would love for you to be as close to our project as possible throughout this journey. We will share photos of the under-construction Lightbulb Room so that you can see for yourself the amazing changes that are taking place thanks to your generous contributions.
Thank you to all of you who plan on helping us make this initiative a success. Please feel free to reach out if you have any suggestions, queries or if you'd like to visit our school and interact with the students :)