It is often a matter of significant discussion when education in the state gains centre stage. The importance of empowering the youth towards education has been stressed time and again by scholars and educators.
This was what prompted a young individual to mould an organisation, with the target of building capacities in students and promoting student leadership. Thus ‘The Student Foster Foundation’ was born.
Started in the summer of 2018, the organisation has already carried out its first initiative, Jotter Project, which has benefitted nearly 1,300 students. Keeping the aims and means simple, Jotter Project targeted utilisation of the unused pages which remain at the back of notebooks used every year. The pages were then cast out into fresh notebooks with the help of a press and distributed for free among disadvantaged students, thereby encouraging them to further their educational endeavours.
So far, Jotter Project has helped 10 schools in and around Shillong and with these humble beginnings, the initiative looks forward to widening the approach to many more schools in the coming months.
“The aim of the Student Foster Foundation, through its initiatives like Jotter Project, is to sensitise students on the social realities of lesser fortunate students and empower them to make a difference by the simple act of giving away a notebook. While individually it may seem small, the collective effort can have a very big impact,” explains Darrell Jonathan Kharsyntiew, who is the founder and at the core of the organisation along with three others — Ynaiita Warjri, Abhinav Tandon and Anirban Paul.
The members are taking a break from their career to engage themselves in the novel initiative.
However, like any other organisation, The Student Foster Foundation too came across a few stumbling blocks during its initial days.
“We had many schools who were interested in Jotter Project but it took some time for them to make the students understand the idea,” said Warjri.
“Initially we received very few notebooks and we felt the idea was failing, but to our good fortune schools like Kiddies Corner and St. Margaret’s contributed in huge numbers which then helped us to kick-off,” she added.
Apart from schools like Jyoti Sroat Inclusive School and Providence School, which are located in the city, the reach of Jotter Project has also extended to schools located on the outskirts like Umsawli, Mawlong and Umiam.
“Initiatives like Jotter Project are a serious need of the hour. There is still a lot that needs to be done in the field of education. It is great that the youth are coming forward because they will ultimately have to lead from the front so that help reaches people at a grass-root level,” Shima Modak, founder of SPARK, elucidated.
The members say they had initially thought about involving colleges and offices, besides schools, “but we wanted to see whether the concept works”. They will soon expand their initiative to include more organisations and institutes.
Standing at an early stage, The Student Foster Foundation is planning to implement its second initiative in the coming months which is designed to help middle school students become active participants in facilitating social change in their immediate environment. The initiative will be called Trailblazer under which youths will be sensitised about various unconventional career options.
The organisation is currently welcoming spirited college students and young professionals to join its initiatives and take up leadership roles across a wide spectrum within it.
(Contributed by Anirban Paul)
Photo courtesy: The Student Foster Foundation