At a time when students across the world are at risk of losing out on education due to the closure of schools and job loss, a Maharashtra-based educator has managed to raise Rs 40 lakh to fund the education of 200 children through a fundraise. Shirley Pillai who is the principal of Powai English High School in Mumbai started a fundraiser to help children who were unable to afford education due to the lockdown last year in March. Today, her fundraiser has managed to collect Rs 40 lakh.
After the pandemic started, Pillai said that nearly 50 percent of the 2,200 students studying in the school stopped paying fees. Upon contacting the families if of the children, school authorities understood the dire financial situation in the families of some of the children. Speaking to Times of India, Pillai said that the school catered to children from families across social strata including children of daily wagers and migrant workers or people from the unorganised sector, many of whom faced severe crunch since the Covid-19 pandemic.
At first, the school decided to deal with the situation by slashing the schools’ annual fee – Rs 35,000 – to half. When that too did not seem possible for a number of students, Pillai said that she approached corporates and other benefactors in her area.
“The worry was that girl students would be the first to be forced to drop out of school,” Pillai told TOI in an interview. Pillai used the power of her own influence as well that of corporate entities and individuals to raise enough funds to pay the tuition for as many as 200 students of the school in the year 2020-21. Now, the school is trying to secure a second round of funding for students for the year 2021-22, even as the second wave of the pandemic continues to Maharashtra under a state of lockdown.
Pillai said that she will not rest until she secures funding for financially unstable students for this academic year as well.