You can also find information about our projects in our organization presentation.

The possibility of our demographic dividend turning into a demographic curse has been increasing. We can reduce that possibility by providing proper education to all. Keeping this fact in mind, Guruji Education Foundation has been providing holistic education to underprivileged children for the last 18 years. We are working both at the school and college levels.

School students are developed on the dimensions of physical literacy, mental strength, intellectual prowess, entrepreneurship, and life skills. We are working with 12 schools in the state (Nerul- Thane, Vikramgad-Palghar, Trimbak and Ramgad – Sindhudurg, Nagaj-Sangli, Vairag-Solapur, Lohgaon-Osmanabad, Chinchwad-Pune, Tandulwadi-Jalgaon Vanjarwadi and Saigwan – Aurangabad and Nagpur) and one in Tamil Nadu (Tanjav) and one in Madhya Pradesh (NEPA). Fifteen to twenty new schools will be added to it in the coming academic year.

In Physical Literacy, we provide appropriate sport equipment and guidance. Research has proven that physical fitness is essential for intellectual development and this organization believes in it. We regularly review the progress of the schools through various means.

Mental strength emphasizes on GRAPES i.e., gratitude, resilience, achievement orientation, positivity, emotional intelligence, and sophophilic (knowledge orientation). These attributes obviously can’t be inculcated only by lectures. It is necessary to explain these things in an interactive manner and then give them different assignments over years to increase their mental strength.

Intellectual ability includes different types of thinking – critical, creative, systems, design, scientific, mathematical, etc. For this, the institute uses software called Scratch from MIT USA. With it children can express their feelings, thoughts, and ideas. Apart from that, critical thinking is taught through various exercises. Reading and discussing new books, and reviewing them is also useful for enriching thinking skills. Schools are provided with selected books and reading and reviewing of the books is tracked. We have developed a Mathematical Laboratory to explain the basic concepts of mathematics.

Passion for entrepreneurship is a very important issue as we have a huge unemployment issue. The government providing jobs is not the solution. We have to start new industries and thereby provide jobs. We have enhanced the teaching material, provided by Udhyam, to develop an entrepreneurial mindset among adolescents

Our underprivileged children lack life skills which impacts their self-confidence. We have divided life skills into three parts, namely Hygiene, Growth, and Leadership. These include skills such as leadership and presentation, goal setting, team building, money and time management, self-discipline, decision-making, and problem-solving, self-reliance (household chores), language skills – especially English, sex education, hygiene, and good citizenship.

This work has been going on since 2018, before covid. In covid, we had to switch to online mode. Based on the pre-Covid, Cocid, and post-Covid experience, we have started using hybrid – offline and online – model. Currently, we are connected with 1500 children and that number is going to take us to 4000 this year. We teach by going to schools personally or online. We also have appointed some local teachers. In some places, we take the help of school teachers. We are upbeat our model of selecting talented children from the school, training them, and they teaching to other students. In some schools, we also teach children during Diwali and summer vacations.

Another project is for college students. Children from villages or slums study easily till the 10th. That education does not cost anything and children are too young to earn money for the family. When children complete their schooling, the parents now have options – either enrolling the child for higher education or employment. Education is like an investment – they need to provide for travel/hostel, better clothes, mobile phones, etc. The employment, on the other hand, increases the family’s income. Because of their circumstances, they choose the second option. We intervene at these junctures and tell those parents that they have waited for sixteen years for their son or daughter to help them and if they wait for another five or six years, their child can help them in a much better way. We promise them that they need not worry about expenses as we will take care of them. Of course, we know that these children desperately need social capital in addition to financial capital.

We do prefer students who are distressed due to life-threatening diseases in their families, who have single parents, or who are orphans. Our selection process involves visiting students’ homes to develop rapport with the parents and verify all the credentials. Each selected student is provided with two mentors, one from their field like science or engineering, and one from their geography. It is necessary to develop the thinking ability of these children, so students are required to do a monthly thinking exercise resulting in a document – MTE document. That document goes to that student’s mentors It is discussed either in in-person or video call meetings. Mentors track student’s holistic development. and guide them accordingly. We also conduct various development programs like Art of Living Program, Financial Literacy, Time Management, Entrepreneurship, Innovation. At regular intervals, we organize meetings of the students with experts in their fields. We hold an annual meeting of the organization. When the number of students was small, a single annual meeting was held at a central location. Now it happens in every region – like last year it happened in Osmanabad, Nanded, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Pune, and Mumbai. These meetings are organized entirely by students. The guests of the meets do not give speeches but are interviewed by our students. Even reputed personalities like Nitin Gadkariji and Achyut Godboleji are interviewed by our students. Our financial help is not just limited to college fees but also include hostel fee, mess fee, and whatever expenses are incurred for co and extracurricular activities. In short, our goal is to raise the students like our own children. It is important that the students’ families contribute to the education commensurate with their income to retain better bonds between the students and their families. So, we request the parents to give an appropriate portion of their income – without taking any loan – to the organization.

So far more than a hundred children have graduated and leading successful lives. Even after graduation, they need help, not financial, in mentoring. They need help to solve problems at work and at home. Throughout their tenure with the foundation, they rely on the mentors resulting in a good bond with them. So when they face problems at work or home, they remember their mentors and seek their guidance.

For the first fourteen years, we admitted children from our state and reached every nook and corner of the state. We have students from Bhamragarh in the east, Nanded, Osmanabad, Solapur in the central south, Sawantwadi Kankavali in the south, Dhule Shahada Palghar in the north, Aurangabad Pune Satara in the central areas. Recently we have started taking children from Rajasthan, Delhi, and Andhra outside the state.

The organization is run by five employees along with more than 200 volunteers including the management committee, executive committee and location heads.

Future plans

Today in our country more than 2 crore students appear for the class 10th exam. We have to scale up our work to reach more students. Our new students need to come from under-developed areas. We need to work on developing basic literacy and numeracy skills in the elementary schools as well as thinking and teaming skills in the middle schools. We also need to identify learning disabilities and gifted students and develop customized programs for them. We are currently working on science labs for school students and parent training. Our remote area schools require basic infrastructural facilities like buses to bring children to schools and the installation of solar systems to maintain environmental balance and reduce electricity bills. During college education, students require support for conceptual learning and doing real-life projects. We have to identify potential entrepreneurs and give them the necessary support.

You can find more information about our projects in our organization presentation.