Joining hands to make a difference together – DSS and Vibha – Hemangi Shah

DSS (Door Step School) was established in Mumbai, India in 1989 with the aim of addressing literacy amongst the marginalized sections of society. The slum at Cuffe Parade was the first initiative with core programs viz. non-formal education classes, pre-primary education centers, mobile libraries and study classes.

How DSS came into existence: Foundation of DSS lies in The Social Service Center at Colaba Municipal School, which was helping dropout children to return back to schools. Despite a widespread infrastructure of formal education, a large number of children were uncovered by this system in Mumbai itself. Hence, the need for an alternative whereby education would reach the children was seen, and the idea of a school at the children’s “door step” came into being in 1989.

DSS Vision & Mission: To be an instrumental force to bridge the gap, using innovative programs that will bring education to underprivileged children and help them make the transition to literacy and a brighter future. DSS aims to provide primary education to every child up to 14 years of age.

DSS growth over the years: In 1993 DSS opened a branch in Pune and in 1999 started a new project named ‘Project Grow with Books’ (reading classes and lending libraries in government schools) in ten PMC schools. 12Today they run this project in 240 schools and cover PMC, PCMC and outer Pune schools. In 2000 DSS got first ‘School on Wheels’ bus and today they have four such buses.

Until 2003-04, main focus of DSS was on slum and street children. Then it surveyed 380 labor camps out of 1500 construction sites in the city of Pune and the findings showed that there were around 20 to 25 thousand children of the construction workers who were not in school. And after this, DSS decided also to focus on children of migrant families in general and on those whose parents are construction laborers.

The first challenge for DSS was to get donors to support this initiative and Vibha was the first believer and supporter of the idea.

DSS development Spotlights:

  1. First Steps Forward, 2010 – Initiative aiming at bringing reading levels of grade 1 children to the expected level for grade 1. Started with 40 schools and now covering 240 schools- 65% children are achieving the expected level.
  2. Every Child Counts, 2011- Campaign in support of Right to Education Act -aims at 100% enrolment in cities of Pune, Pimpari, Chinchwad and Outer Pune- Focus age group 6-8 year old marginalized children. Enrolment is done in Govt. schools (ECC).
  3. Parents Participation in children’s education (PPCE), 2012- Initiative geared toward educating parents on their role as a parent of a school going child. Covered a number of small juggling jhopadi clusters with more than 1000 parents and results are very encouraging.
  4. Teach Them Young, 2016- Aims at teaching children how to use toilets and related hygienic practices. Mid-day meal distribution and children seating to include organization and prevent food wastage, which is in line with national program called Clean Schools Clean Nation.

DSS Recognition:

  1. DSS has published more than fifty titles of graded learning in Marathi. They are thrilled particularly since these books will soon be used in Marathi language classes privately run in USA and Canada.
  2. Duke and Duchess of Great Britain visited Mumbai in 2016 –They visited three NGOs, one of which was DSS.3
  3. An NGO named United Activities for Children from Cameroon has asked for partnering with DSS and it is still under consideration.

VIBHA Involvement with DSS: Vibha has partnered with DSS for 10 years now, starting 2006 and with each year, Vibha has increased its commitment to DSS. In 2009, $65000 was disbursed to DSS. These funds were used to fund NFEs, Balwadi’s and study classes at 40 construction sites. Vibha has also been involved in an advisory role with DSS. In 2008, DSS started scaling its operations based on recommendation from Vibha to expand their NFE network to cover as many construction sites as possible.

How Vibha helped DSS: Vibha supports 40 out of 100 DSS sites. Its total funding to DSS so far is $5.985 million and the total number of children supported in 2015-16 is 3141.

Vibha will continue to support DSS’s journey by providing education and assistance to the inquisitive kids in the underprivileged sectors of the society in Pune and Mumbai.






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