This is the story of Shaheen Mistri, a woman who loves children and believes in educating and empowering them. Her focus is on children from economically weak background as she envisions building a movement of leaders for educational reform in India. She started teaching 15 children in a single-room borrowed classroom but today covers 3,500 children in 58 centres and six schools.
Shaheen started with her mission when she was 18-years-old that too without any space facility. She went inside the slum and connected with the human beings who lived there. Shaheen decided it was she who had to make a difference.
Shaheen started doing a lot of ‘individual one-off things’ and began a little class in one of her friend Sandhya’s house. She was teaching only a few children and realised that she really loved it. One fine day, She along with a friend visited 400-500 homes and conducted a survey of sorts. That’s when she had an idea.
Shaheen gathered a group of kids from slums, got together the volunteers from few reputed educational institutions and started classes under the banner of ‘Akanksha’. Wonderfully enough, Akanksha had a strong and dedicated team and carried on. So far the most interesting thing is her model did not need funds.
More than 85% of the Akanksha kids actually sat for and passed the SSC exam. Nearly 60% of them went on to college and many are now graduating. A large part of these initial ideas are now ‘Teach for India’ Initiative. ‘Teach for India’ is now a part of ‘ Teach for all‘ global movement.
Teach for India emphasises on spreading the idea of quality education for all children across all walks of life through its alumni. TFI currently has 1,100 Fellows from world’s top universities like IITs, IIMs, and Harvard. The Fellows work across 209 schools in seven cities of India – Mumbai , Pune, New Delhi , Chennai , Ahmedabad , Bangalore and Hyderabad reaching approximately 38,000 students.
Shaheen wrote her own script, acted her own part, expressed who she was with passion and intensity. And that’s Why she is an inspiration to each of us.