A shoemaker by day, 15 year-old Raman is a student by night in Mumbai, India. He recently took Level Up Village’s Global App Developers through LUV’s Global Partner Masoom Education Group and was inspired by the experience to fully engage in his studies and pursue his dream of becoming an engineer.
“Before, Raman didn’t like school and never showed up for any of the school activities. Now he is passionate about his goals and ready to work hard,” said Vishvajeet Pawar, Specialist, Masoom Education Group.
All over the world, Level Up Village (LUV) programs provide K-9 students with hands-on, engaging STEAM (STEM + arts) activities that make STEAM accessible and inspiring.
What separates Raman and his classmates from most LUV students is that all of them have full-time jobs, despite being as young as 12. Raman and his friends work long hours making shoes by hand or selling vegetables. After spending all day working, they attend school for three hours each night. Hungry and tired, they are looking for a way out of poverty. Masoom is dedicated to helping these children.
Masoom’s founder Nikita Ketkar first encountered a night school by accident. She discovered that students were struggling to learn because the night schools were underfunded and lacked basic infrastructure and staff training. Moreover, many students who may have benefitted were unaware the night schools even existed.
Nikita launched Masoom to solve these problems. Masoom now provides training, curriculum, infrastructure, advocacy and hot meals to 30 night schools in Maharashtra State and plans to expand to 210 schools by 2020.
Last winter, LUV was introduced to Masoom by the Global Fund for Children (GFC), an incubator for promising NGOs that serve disadvantaged children around the world. Masoom became one of Level Up Village’s Global Partners in the spring of 2015 and partnered with students at Stanwich School in Greenwich, Connecticut, led by Stanwich’s Education Technologist and LUV teacher Craig Bolotin.
“Our students were able to consider the issues facing students in other situations around the world, such as how they have to work with their families during the day and how they have less consistent electricity. In addition, our students were able to see that all children around the world share similar interests and dreams.” – Craig Bolotin, Educational Technologist at Stanwich School in Greenwich, Conn.
The virtual exchange between Masoom students and Stanwich students was an immediate success. Students came in the door demanding to watch their partners’ video messages. One pair of Stanwich students even recorded a seven minute video letter – one of the longest in LUV’s history.
According to Bolotin, the opportunity to build global citizenship was the most important part of the program.
“The cool technology was secondary,” Bolotin said. “Our students were able to consider the issues facing students in other situations around the world, such as how they have to work with their families during the day and how they have less consistent electricity. In addition, our students were able to see that all children around the world share similar interests and dreams.”
For the Masoom students, these friendships and the global collaboration experience helped them build confidence and realize their own capabilities.
“Preparing mobile apps was a tough task for them,” said Pawar. “Now they have achieved something unique. They are ready for more similar challenges.”
Masoom’s initial LUV class was limited in size due to a lack of computers and slow Internet access. To address these challenges, Masoom hopes to create a mobile computer lab, with the goal of reaching over a thousand night school students. To learn more about this organization, please visit Masoom Education Group and join Level Up Village in supporting this organization’s work.