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Bloom: Digital Skills for Life
Introducing Our New Program
Bloom: Digital Skills for Life is a women’s empowerment program. Older children from our Building Blocks and Project +10 programs benefit as well.
Mothers of our Building Blocks children—day labourers or house servants earning very low wages—who already have a grasp of English are invited to join a six-month, two hour a day digital literacy program in which they learn about computers, the internet, cybersecurity, touch typing, and Microsoft Office. By learning these computer skills they can apply for data entry positions, which could as much as triple their monthly take home pay. After six months there are options to advance further into digital content creation (web and graphic design) and software development for those who have the interest, aptitude, and time to pursue further studies.
We currently have a total of 22 computers for students. We are running two sessions a day; each session for two hours. We have 52 students, of which 40 are mothers or siblings of our Building Blocks and Project +10 students, and 12 students from Project +10.
Family Development Services is a politically and religiously unbound organisation, registered at the Office of the Registrar of Societies in Bangalore, India.
We work for the betterment of slum children across India by providing them with a well-rounded education on par with most private schools. This is mainly done through our three flagship programs: Building Blocks, Project +10, and Foster Homes.
All children in Building Blocks come from extremely poor families. Before coming to our schools most were roaming the streets in very unhygienic conditions while often taking care of their younger siblings. In either case they would be unsupervised, with access to little food, while their parents, normally construction labourers, would be gone the whole day. Most of our children did not have access to nutritious food, clean water, or hygienic toilet facilities, and were thus prone to malnutrition and other health problems. These children would never have had an opportunity to receive a quality education; their parents have only one objective: to make enough money to buy food to survive.
In 2004 James Suresh Ambat, founder of Building Blocks, was determined to find a way to help the children of poor families who were living in the slum districts that surround the city of Bangalore. The need for accessible education was huge, with hundreds of children needing education, and parents neither willing or able to make it a priority. With the help of many individuals, corporations, and philanthropic sponsors, Building Blocks India (BBI) now has 10 Learning Centres for children 3 to 6 years old. Today, there are 817 children enrolled in our schools and 320 BBI Scholars have moved on to English-medium primary and secondary schools, which we help support with our after-school programmes. To-date the schools have supported almost 1500 students over the last 15 years. Additionally, over one million nutritious meals have been served to these undernourished children.
Mission and Vision
We envision a future India free from poverty where all children, regardless of background or class have equal opportunity to get an education. We provide education to children from underprivileged or low income families to achieve this goal. The early childhood years are the most crucial in the development of the child, both physically and mentally. Building Blocks’ resolution to starting early gives its beneficiaries a head start in life.
All the children in Building Blocks come from extremely poor families. Before coming to our schools most of them would be roaming the streets in very unhygienic conditions or taking care of their younger siblings. In either case they would be unsupervised, with hardly any food while their parents, normally construction laborers, would be gone the whole day! Most of our children do not have nutritious food, access to clean water nor hygienic toilet facilities and are thus prone to all kinds of health problems and malnutrition. These children would never have an opportunity to receive quality education as their parents only have one objective: to make enough money to buy food to survive!
Building Blocks India
Building Blocks India is a preschool program for urban poor and underprivileged children providing a good foundation in English language, arithmetic, general science, social and practical life skills at an early age of three years.
These children would not have access to early childhood education opportunities due to the economic circumstances of their families. We are able to provide this completely free through the help of philanthropic sponsors. The preschools also serve the children two nutritious meals every day six days a week, provide medical check-ups twice a year, and teach hygiene on an ongoing basis.
Programs and projects of Building Blocks
1. Regular school program: 6 days a week, from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm.
2. Nutrition program: Breakfast and lunch served 220 working days a year.
3. Selection Strategy: The social workers and school managers ensure that admissions are given first to the neediest through a strict selection strategy. The selection process is finalised in three months’ time through a process of case history consideration, scorecards, house visits, screening test, and orientation meetings. Bi-annual follow up visits are also done by social workers.
4. Curriculum: All our schools follow a well-structured, integrated common curriculum that is regularly assessed and updated. Teachers and staff participate in training sessions that equip them to effectively deliver the curriculum to the best of their ability. The weekly lesson plans are designed based on feedback from the teaching staff. Class tests are conducted every Friday and Term End Assessments are conducted in September, December, and March by the Curriculum coordinators.
5. Management: The School Head is responsible for the smooth and safe running of the school. Priorities include building staff and community relationships, managing day-to-day operations and student data, keeping books of accounts, and sending daily and monthly reports. The activities of teachers and junior staff are maintained and monitored daily using checklists.
6. Community Engagement: Social worker conducted regular awareness programs cover topics like child sexual abuse, financial literacy, health and hygiene, and fire safety. School Heads and external partners also collaborate to improve the parents’ living standards.
7. Relationship Building: Orientation and PTA meetings are conducted to convey to parents the importance of education and to reinforce the rules and regulations of the school in regards to attendance, cleanliness, etc.
8. Library program: A well-stocked and highly structured, age-appropriate reading program is followed for 15 minutes a day in the lesson plan. The teachers maintain records of how each book is used.
9. Co-Curricular activities: Educational field trips are organized for the students, while other extra-curricular activities such as art, drama, and theatre are done in the school.
Project +10 is a scholarship project that allows graduates from Building Blocks India to continue their studies in English Medium schools. It is essential for children from urban-poor communities to have a chance to continue their education to improve their possibilities for employment.
Other than providing these students with scholarships, Project +10 runs an after-school program that also provides children the opportunity to do their homework with the help of dedicated and qualified online teachers from different parts of the world.
Foster Homes provides little children from the streets of Bengaluru a secure, safe, and healthy living environment. Our homes provide the warm family atmosphere needed by children to heal the wounds of psychosocial trauma from living on the street. Then, with the support of the Dream India Network, these children attend Building Blocks schools. All of this helps provide these children with the opportunity to experience the kind of childhood they deserve. Today, there are 448 girls enrolled in Foster Homes and availing themselves of good education in nearby English Medium Schools.
COVID Relief Work Updates
“When you educate the child, you change the community“
Charity Name: Family Development Services (Aka Building Blocks India)
President & CEO: Suresh Ambat
Location: Bangalore, Hyderabad Coorg and Goa
Website: https://www.buildingblocksindia.org/ and https://fdsin.org/