It is six in the evening. Anshika glances at the clock, idly hanging on the wall, and rushes towards her mother. Hearing her daughter’s footsteps, Anshika’s mother takes the laptop out of her bag while Vanshika peruses the notes of her Japanese class that she takes at Puraskaar. “Foreign language courses are expensive, and most are not even suitable for a seven-year-old, but thanks to Puraskaar, Anshi can learn Japanese with ease,” says Anshika’s mother while talking to Puraskaar’s Foreign Langauge HoD Sandhya, emphasizing how the flexible timings have helped her daughter with her learnings.
This is one of a hundred stories that one can get to know while reading about Puraskaar – an NGO providing quality online education at no cost. From seven-year-olds like Vanshika to corporates, everyone has something to gain from Puraskaar’s dynamic offerings.
The NGO is the brainchild of Mr Gautam Kumar, an alumnus of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Gautam belongs to a stratum where girls still have to fight their families to pursue higher education despite economic prosperity and advancement in social norms. Being in the field of education himself, he was determined to change this scenario for the better. It was during the pandemic, when he was taking online classes, he realized how deep the dent was created by the pandemic in a student’s academic life. While the privileged shifted to online classes, those who couldn’t afford them were left to fend for themselves. Seeing the situation, Gautam started giving free online classes to his househelp’s children and from there, he came up with the concept of Puraskaar. He chose his choicest students to lead Puraskaar gallantly. Over the months, people from varied backgrounds started associating with the social cause and what started as a team of three turned into a family of 800+ within one year. Puraskaar boasts of having top-class faculty, many of whom are experts in their fields. The internal team also consists of industry experts who closely monitor the growth of Puraskaar and keep on coming up with ways to improve various facets of the NGO like the techniques of imparting education. Vice President of Puraskaar, Radikha, says that one thing that differentiates Puraskaar from other similar platforms is the flexibility it provides to its students and the method of imparting education. “We have students from varied backgrounds. Many join our courses for upskilling. At the same time, we have school and college students from pan India. Keeping that in mind, we have developed our teaching pedagogy to cater to all of them most effectively,” adds Radhika. Starting with basic subjects like Science, Maths, Humanities and English, Puraskaar quickly expanded its offerings by adding foreign language courses and skill-based courses like Spoken English and Python. Keeping the holistic development of a student in mind, Puraskaar also introduced co-curricular subjects such as Yoga, Music, Art and Craft, Dance, etc. Puraskaar had conducted Mandala making sessions during the pandemic which turned out to be a huge hit among the participants. Dr Pravin, an IT expert and faculty for Python at Puraskar, says – “Puraskaar is quite strict with its classes. The students have to maintain minimum 85% attendance and pass the final test to receive the completion certificate. This makes sure that only serious students join the course”.
Apart from classes, Puraskaar has also conducted many orientation programmes (for foreign languages) and workshops (like faculty development programmes) for its students and faculties. Recently, Purasakaar conducted a two-day workshop on CUET where professors from Delhi University and Centarl university Gurath were invited to create awareness of CUET and provide guidance to the aspirants. Eminent personalities such as Dr Niharika Vohra, Vice-Chancellor of Delhi Skill and entrepreneurship university, Mr Kush Beejal Founder of Neotencils and Prof. Sudheer Pratap Singh, Dean of Students JNU have graced Puraskaar’s events on different occasions.
Puraskaar also runs a mentor-mentee programme called the Vartalaap Programme to provide guidance to the students. Through this, a student gets to seek guidance from a senior who has been in his/her shoes. Added by Mentorship program head Asihwariya Pillai
Their association with Puraskaar has been equally fulfilling for the volunteers. The diverse pool allows the volunteers to get exposure on a greater level. School or College students volunteering get a chance to network while contributing towards a saintly cause. What once seemed an impossible task is being made possible by the volunteers of Puraskaar – every day.
You can visit Puraskaar’s website at www.puraskaar.org or follow its Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn page.