Mumbai Girls School Lift Mothers Out Of Poverty Through Free Skill Courses

Mumbai Girls School Lift Mothers Out Of Poverty Through Free Skill Courses

Empower mothers in Mumbai with free skill courses in tailoring, embroidery, and more at Anjuman-I-Islam's Saif Tyabji Girls' School. Learn how these initiatives are lifting families out of poverty and providing opportunities for financial independence.

Megha ChowdhuryUpdated: Tuesday, January 09, 2024, 02:51 PM IST
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Mumbai: Anjuman-I-Islam's Saif Tyabji Girls' School empowers mothers through free courses in tailoring, embroidery, and more, providing financial independence and opportunities for women to start their own businesses.

Until a few months back, Naushad Ansari from Mahim used to drop her three children to Anjuman-I-Islam's Saif Tyabji Girls' High School and then head back home. With plenty of free time on her hands, she would kill time by using mobile phone or gossiping with neighborhood women. However, everything changed when the school invited her to a meeting where she found that the school had started free courses in tailoring and embroidery for mothers of students.

Although, with an aim to become financially strong and independent, Ansari did join the free tailoring classes without telling her in-laws which she claims to be an issue at her home. 

Aayesha Hossien, a student at the school was found sobbing in the corridor a few months back. When the teachers asked her why she was distressed, she told them she couldn’t bring herself to partake of the free meal that the school provides, when her mother hadn’t eaten anything for two days. Upon inquiring further, school authorities learnt that Aayesha’s  father had passed away recently, and that her mother was struggling to provide for the two of them. 

Keen on alleviating the family’s problems, the school authorities decided to introduce these courses to Aayesha’s mother, Marayam. Upon asking how it is going for her, Marayam  says, “ I come with my kids to school in the morning. While they attend their classes, I attend my tailoring class and I am now confident to start my own tailoring class.”

Besides helping her family tide over the troubled times, the school’s generous efforts helped Marayam, aged 35, get a job at an NGO. 

Naushad and Marayam are among 200 women at the courses in tailoring, embroidery & Mehendi that the school and junior college began in 2022. Started under a scheme called Atma Nirbhar, the course is aimed at empowering parents, especially mothers, so as to make them financially strong and independent.

It all started out as a worry for the parents who were severely impacted by the lockdowns brought on by the pandemic and found it difficult to pay the fees. "All of this began when our management called a meeting to discuss how to make sure that low-income parents don't encounter the same circumstances as they did during the pandemic. Since most mothers didn't work and fathers were rendered jobless, we decided to start these free classes for the mothers," says principal Shama Tarapurwala.

Soon an NGO named The Indian Development Foundation (IDF), joined in to provide trainers who, in collaboration with the school's own trainers, started instructing these women in various skills. Upon successful completion of the exams and obtaining a certificate, the mothers are even provided with sewing machines by the foundation.

Ex-students join these classes as well

Since the courses are aimed to empower women, many ex-students, even if they are not mothers yet, joined the classes. 

Take Aafreen Khan who passed her 12th from this school. "I am keen on learning fashion designing but since my father doesn't have enough means to enroll me in a college, I decided to come here for these classes to learn a skill and start my own fashion brand," says Aafreen, daughter of a taxi driver.

Fatima Sayyed, a student who dropped out of class after 10th says, “I was not studying further but then when I heard the school has started mehndi courses, I decided to learn a skill as I had a lot of spare time.”

In addition to offering tailoring, embroidery, and mehndi classes, the school will now introduce courses in knitting jute bags as well as making jelly and spreads.

Mothers are being taught basic spoken English skills.

The school also runs an adult literacy programme where mothers who have no educational background are taught Urdu and basic spoken English skills.

To get an understanding of how difficult it is to teach an adult parent, the FPJ spoke to a teacher. 

The teacher clarified that the focus is not on rote learning of the alphabet, but on imparting basic English speaking skills to make these women comfortable and confident in English-speaking environments. Additionally, they are taught how to sign their names and speak simple sentences.

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