Published: 15th November 2020
How Maitreyee Kumar is helping every child get into their 'Dream School' through her Ten Plus programme
Maitreyee Kumar of Dream School Foundation speaks about their Ten Plus programme to help students pursue higher education in whichever school or college they wish to study in
When Maitreyee Kumar quit her well-paying corporate job as a software engineer to join the CRY Foundation to contribute in her way to society, she never thought she would dedicate the rest of her life to providing quality education to kids in government schools. Fast forward 20 years, Maitreyee is the founder of the non-profit organisation Dream School Foundation in Bengaluru. She says, "When I took a break from my job and joined CRY in 1995, it became a full-time job for me. I was into volunteer management and was coordinating various programmes at the national level. While there were many initiatives by CRY, my friends and I realised that there is a lot to be done for government school kids in the area of quality education. So in 2015, I quit CRY and started Dream School Foundation. The aim was simple and clear: we wanted to ensure that each and every child had the right to quality education."
With this idea in mind, Maitreyee and her team began several educational programmes, one of them being HeadStart. During her phase of working with school kids, the founder had discovered that a lot of kids face difficulties in class 8, 9 and 10. "Either the fee at the high school level is too high or children have to travel long distances to study in a different high school. In such instances, they need financial help, mentoring and so on. Therefore, under the HeadStart programme, we provide them with information about the different schools nearby and the facilities available. Once they agree, we facilitate their admission process and provide them with financial resources. In the meantime, our volunteers track their performance in all the three years, from class 8 to 10," Maitreyee explains.
Maitreyee Kumar, Founder, Dream School Foundation
So what do these children do after class 10? Maitreyee's answer to this is another programme called Ten Plus. "Once the first batch of students completed their class 10 final exams, we began thinking of ways to help them next. That's when we designed and launched the Ten Plus programme. Under this programme, we provide financial resources and mentorship to tenth graders to choose the school/college and the stream they want to study. So far, at least 4,000 students have benefitted from this programme. They get access to over 2,000 academic and non-academic books, a computer centre, an online repository of comprehensive academic reference material," explains Maitreyee.
A unique factor of this programme is that they not only help meritorious students, but also help those who have scored average marks as well. Maitreyee says, "There are many organisations that give scholarship for students who score the highest marks. However, students who score average or below-average marks don't get any financial support. Despite their marks, they might actually be interested in studies. We talk to them to understand their interest in higher studies and support them in any way we can, mainly in getting them admission into the college of their choice. We also provide them with laptops, career counselling, life skill sessions and outbound programmes, workshops for parents, enrollment in professional course coaching etc. Though we don't have regular donors per se for each child, we ensure that there is no interruption in their academic year." Maitreyee and team want to expand her programmes to other cities in Karnataka. Currently, these programmes are available to students in Bengaluru.