We were honoured when the Maharashtra State Education Minister, Hon. Shri Deepakji Kesarkar, took time out of his busy schedule to announce that our Snehalaya English Medium School has been shortlisted in the World's Best School Prizes for overcoming adversity.
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Maharashtra became the leading state in the country due to the extraordinary progress in education in the last one and a half centuries. Savitribai Phule, Shahu Maharaj, Dr Ambedkar, Bharat Ratna Dhondo Keshav Karve, Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil, Pandita Ramabai and many others brought the children from the marginalised communities in the main stream of education. Snehalaya English Medium School in Ahmednagar has maintained and carried this heritage and legacy forward. The barriers of discrimination, ignorance and prejudice in the society have been overcome by Snehalaya in the last 33 years. Since the year 2010, Snehalaya started its own independent school to empower underprivileged students through quality education.
As the School Education Minister of Maharashtra, I congratulate this contribution of the English medium school of Snehalaya. Out-of-school children, who had no access to education, were brought into the mainstream of education by this school. Children living with HIV/AIDS, orphans and destitute children, children of women trapped in prostitution, children from slums, child labourers, children with special needs are a part of this all-inclusive school.
I am also proud that the first English medium school of this kind in the country was started in Maharashtra due to Snehalaya. Today, the lives of 3,000 children have been changed by this school and institution. It paved the way for their bright future. Its alumni are serving in police department, administration and other fields. They are progressing confidently in various government and private jobs, business and service sector. Since they have developed a value system of their own, they are imparting the message of sincere service to others. 70% of the students admitted to Snehalaya English Medium School this year are from families outside the institution. This school has maintained the tradition of 100% pass in class 10 for the last four years.
25% of the students in this school live with HIV. Most of the children are of women trapped in prostitution. For this reason, these students had to face discrimination in outside schools for many years. Mainstream students were also brought to the school to make the education here inclusive. The school empowered students to live beyond the academic knowledge. This school’s students receive guidance and inspiration from many 'changemakers' of the world, international volunteers, teachers, artists and social workers. Every year, state and national level children and youth camps are conducted in this school. That's why Aamir Khan's program Satyamev Jayate featured Snehalaya’s efforts in the first season in 2012.
Many schools in Ahmednagar District make use of unique facilities of Snehalaya school for their students, like the school's Geography Park. Some of the students here, due to their unique circumstances, require extra attention. Hence, the school creates opportunities for students to channelize their energies through various sports and games. The school has four full-time counsellors available to assist students and their teachers, families or caregivers.
Snehalaya’s Shree Sadguru runs competitive examination center for students from rural and marginalized areas and also provides the necessary support which works on the similar principles to the school. The school has thus highlighted the direct relationship of education with social change.
Each year, different schools are honoured for making such a difference globally.
It gives me great pleasure to make an important announcement here today.
The World's Best School’s competition is organized annually by T4 Education, a renowned organization based in England. This year, Snehalaya English Medium School has been chosen by this organization as one of the top ten unique institutions in the world. It was chosen for its extensive socialization of education and imparting quality education to students by overcoming adversity.
On behalf of Maharashtra, I heartily congratulate all the principal, teachers, directors and all the students who have put in maximum efforts for this selection. I feel extremely proud that Maharashtra has one of the best schools in the world for educating underprivileged and out-of-school children. I sincerely wish this school to be announced as the winner in the final stage of the competition in the month of October. I am sure that all children here will become socially aware and active citizens. I am sure that they will glorify the name of our state and country.