At any one time there are over 100 children at Bright Sparks, all from the very poorest families and living in difficult circumstances.
Many are ‘working children’ who are helping their families survive. They have jobs as cleaners or selling snacks. All have domestic responsibilities while their parents work. They wash, cook, clean and look after siblings.
Some missed school altogether and are starting their primary education late. Consequently, the ages in these primary classrooms range from 5-15 years.
Bright Sparks particularly encourages girls to start – and keep up – their education. This may involve extended discussions with their families, especially when marriage becomes an option.
Bright Sparks students are from any religious or non-religious background. Some have special educational needs that we do everything we can to cater for at the school.
Bright Sparks teachers are a special lot. They work long hours for low wages and look after the children like family. Their task begins when they go out into the community to find the kids who would not otherwise set foot in school. After a child is admitted, they work with the families, whose lives are often unstable, to keep the child in education.
There are five class teachers, including the teaching Head, Rita Mohan. They cover the state curriculum: Hindi, Punjabi, English, maths, science, computer skills and general studies. Just as challenging, they help the children to help each other, to organise, to concentrate and even – to have fun!
Tutors run the afternoon session to support the older children and ex-students who are at secondary school. This is especially important as these students don’t have a space, or help, to do schoolwork at home.
Volunteer teachers hold individual and small-group lessons to help students who have additional needs.