Shobha Chauhan could not go about her daily chores without tripping over something or hurting herself for the past ten years. Cataract impaired the 52-year-old's vision. But that was before Fazlani L'Academie Globale students raised Rs 1.35 lakh to helping Chauhan, and many others like her, treat the condition. The diploma students raised the money in collaboration with HelpAge India, a non-profit.
And it didn't end with the funds. Students accompanied the patients to the hospital and spent time with them before their surgeries. "We were able to fulfill a grandparent's wish to see his grandchild for the first time. It was heart-warming to see the difference we were making," said Murtaza Kainan, a Class 12 student of the Mazagaon school.
Schools say they do not want to simply churn out academic toppers and sportspersons anymore. They want to nurture well-rounded individuals with a sense of social responsibility. From raising funds for the sick to adopting impoverished villages and government schools, schools are training students to be socially-aware right from the start.
For the past two years, Rajhans Vidyalaya, Andheri, has been organising a mini-marathon called smile-a-thon, and donates the proceeds to Tata Memorial Centre, Parel, for young cancer patients. "We want to instill gratitude and a sense of responsibility in our students," said Deepshikha Srivastava, principal.
Social work is no longer limited to visiting old-age homes or orphanages during Christmas, the interactions are sustained and personal. Gundecha Education Academy, Kandivli, has adopted three villages in Manor in Thane district. Throughout the year, students collect clothes, containers and buckets for the villagers. Twice a year, students visit these villages and interact with locals.
Even during birthdays, students are encouraged to donate to charities, instead of distributing sweets. "Recently, our ex-students took up the responsibility of educating a former school-nurse's daughter. The nurse had passed away during their schooling," said Seema Buch, principal.
Students of Jamnabai Narsee School, Juhu, organise cultural fairs, tree plantation drives and set up medical camps in Khuj district of Gujarat. Students visit the villages at least once a year.
In addition to this, the school's Class 12 students teach English and mathematics to students of the Urdu section of Tata Compound Municipal School in Andheri every week. Similarly, Gundecha Academy students regularly hold computer and English classes for students of the neighbouring Mathrubhumi Marathi Medium School.
At Oberoi International School, Goregaon, students from the neighbouring Divine Child School learn computers and art. "Our students are lucky to receive the kind of education they do. To appreciate what they have, they must learn to share," said Vladimir Kuskovski, head of the school.