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Door Step School makes the dreams of education of underprivileged children come true
During her MSW (master’s in social work) internship with a municipal school in Colaba (Mumbai), Bina Lashkari was required to do a follow-up on drop-outs. On her field visits then, she came to know that children were not coming to school because they were working at the docks nearby, loading and unloading cargo and assisting the fishermen. Many such children were well past their school-going age but had no avenues to study because their job timings were inflexible.
“At that juncture, I started teaching a small group of children in the Babasaheb Ambedkar Nagar slum,” Ms Lashkari recalls. “Interaction with these children inspired me to continue teaching. After completing my post-graduation, with the guidance of my teacher Rajani Paranjpe, I continued teaching the kids. This is how the idea of setting up a school emerged. This school was to deliver learning at the doorstep of every child,” she explains.
So Door Step School was set up in 1988 in Mumbai with the aim to facilitate the education of children from impoverished backgrounds. The NGO helps children of pavement- and slum-dwellers, construction workers and daily wage-earners. Since inception, it has reached out to more than 50,000 children in 125 different locations.
A year after it was started in Mumbai, Door Step School extended its reach to Pune. Initially, Ms Lashkari had to fund the programme herself. Then, Shaila Welfare Trust and CRY came forward to support the initiative. “The earlier days were hard,” she says, “there was no support from local authorities; no space for classrooms; no funds for paying the programme staff; shortage of staff willing to work in slums; and absence of students due to time constraints and migration.”
However, after 23 years, Door Step School now enrols 1,000 children annually in municipal schools. Regular surveys are conducted at slums and other pockets of the city where out-of-school children are likely to be found. The staff follows up on the visits, meeting the children and their parents to convince them of the benefits of education. The initial aim is to enrol children and make them attend classes regularly. Parent-teacher meetings are conducted periodically and, through inter-community networks, more children are included in the programme. “The children are enrolled in Door Step School classrooms (i.e., their non-formal classrooms) any time of the year,” said Ms Lashkari.
Apart from support classes and out-of-school guidance, the NGO also runs care centres for younger siblings of the students, arranges for school transport, runs mobile classrooms and provides library facilities. “Many students from our school have gone on to finish high school and obtain college degrees. They have returned to take leadership at Door Step School and in their communities,” said Ms Lashkari.
Take Hanumanta Deora, for example. At the age of nine, while working at the docks, he started his studies with Door Step School. He graduated with a diploma from the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition in Mumbai, and is now working in New York at the Carnival Cruise. Rehmuddin Shaikh was enrolled in the balwadi class at the age of three and also developed his passion for rugby. Today, he balances his time as an administrative assistant and is coaching the Mumbai Magicians rugby team. He is still associated with Door Step School. He recently won a gold medal in the National Games for a team rugby event.
Door Step School plans to scale up its activities this year to include more children and extend its outreach. Professionals like doctors, counsellors, lawyers and social entrepreneurs can voluntarily offer their service to the organisation. Door Step School also welcomes volunteers who can help design teaching aids, provide teacher training, organise activities and act as coordinators or software developers for various projects. Donations to Door Step School are exempt under Section 80(G) of the Income-Tax Act.
Door Step School
2nd floor, Jagannath Shankarsheth Municipal School Building,
Grant Road, Nana Chowk,
Mumbai – 400 007
Tel: 98210 58655
In 2008, the apex bank had clearly specified the rules and regulations on the addition or deletion of a joint account-holder’s name under specific circumstances. However, this rule is not being followed
Reserve Bank of India regulations clearly specify that a bank has to maintain an account in the name of a joint account-holder, on the demise of a primary or joint account-holder. But a few instances have come to light where banks are openly flouting these rules-and putting a number of bereaved families under pressure.
Take the case of Pune-based resident Anil Agashe, who held a joint savings account along with his father in HDFC Bank's Satara (in Maharashtra) branch. After his father's demise, he approached the bank to delete his father's name and continue with the account in his name. However, the bank informed Mr Agashe that "as per the rules of the bank" the account would be closed on the death of the first account holder and a new account will have to be opened in Mr Agashe's name.
But while this move might seem logical, it actually creates a number of problems for the surviving account-holder. For example, the existing account number might be having an ECS facility for direct credit of mutual fund dividend amounts or a direct debit facility for paying of utility bills.
The surviving joint account-holder will then have to spend time and money informing all the entities linked to the previous account number, the 'new' account number.
In this case, being an ex-bank employee himself, Mr Agashe demanded in writing about the bank's rules, since the joint account was operating with "either or survivor" status. In fact, the RBI allows simple deletion of a deceased person's name from a particular account.
After many meetings with the bank manger, Mr Agashe was told that there was a "way out" to continue with the account. Later, his account was changed from a senior citizen zero-balance account to a regular savings account.
In the e-mail Mr Agashe had sent to the bank's managing director Aditya Puri, for the trouble he had gone through, HDFC Bank replied to the message, admitting its mistake and blamed the core banking system for the problem.
"As you have correctly stated, regulatory guidelines, vide Master Circular dated 3rd November 2008, allow for such deletion/addition of joint holders in an account if the circumstances warrant. In deference to these guidelines, the Bank has raised a request for suitable changes in its Core Banking system to accommodate this functionality. However, as the Core Banking platform of the Bank itself is undergoing a change to a new system, all systemic developments have been kept in abeyance till the system changeover. Hence, in the interim, we are continuing with our extant practices in this matter," the bank said in the e-mailed reply.
Such a reply comes as a surprise, since these RBI guidelines were issued way back in 2008-and why have they not been implemented? Is blaming the core banking system any excuse?
Mr Agashe told Moneylife, "When I used to work with a bank way back in 1977, we used to simply delete the deceased person's name after verifying the death certificate. There were no such guidelines then, RBI in 2008 just reissued these guidelines. The bank manger himself had no idea about the master circulars.
"My objection is that a bank can't have a procedure which is at variance with RBI guidelines. This will carry an operational risk on part of the bank," he explained.
Sources have confirmed to Moneylife that the RBI would be taking up this issue with the bank. It is also known that these issues regarding consumer banking will be addressed in the report on customer services, which the panel headed by M Damodaran has to table.
Having been a banker himself, Mr Agashe got his issue resolved. But what about other customers who don't know their rights? "Many people are unaware of the rules and regulations of the RBI, which gives an easy route for banks to get away with their poor services," says Mr Agashe.