Armaan Club Graduation

Recently twelve of the artisans’ kids passed their all-important school exams.  These board exams, administered by central councils, are given after Standard or Grade 10 (lower secondary), when students are around 16, and 2 years later after Standard 12 (upper secondary).  The 10th standard test covers a wide variety of subjects, while the 12th standard can be more specialized.  In each case, the student’s performance will determine future options, and he or she can face stiff competition for admission to the next program.  After passing Standard 10, the student can continue on to “junior college” for academic subjects or to technical or vocational schools.  After graduating from Standard 12 students can pursue a bachelor’s degree in arts, business or science, or a professional degree program such as engineering, law or medicine.   

Education for their children is a high priority for the artisans.  Most of these mothers were not able to attend school for as long as they wanted.  They know that education is key for their children to obtain good jobs and lead fulfilling lives.  Even when they cannot help with assignments, they do all that they can to assist their children, including supervising homework sessions, paying for extra tutoring (a common practice in India), and offering encouragement and advice.  The artisans asked MarketPlace to help by developing programs for their children.  The Armaan Club provided these kids with enrichment programs, academic support, and counseling, all designed to give them the confidence and skills to succeed.  We celebrate these young people, their accomplishments – and their proud, supportive mothers!

They were all honored at a ceremony attended by all the Armaan club children.  They received gift certificates and the two scoring the highest marks in Grade 10 and 12 received smart phones.


Kumkum’s son Karan.  Kumkum is a member of Nirmaan Collective

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Karan lives in a small house with his extended family of parents, grandparents, uncle, aunt, and cousins.  It was hard for him to find a quiet place to study.  “I used to get distracted after sitting for half an hour or so and my parents, teachers, and tutors scolded me.”  His solution was to pack his schedule with outside study: he attended school from 7 am to 1:30, then to a tutoring session from 2 pm until 9 pm.  This helped him keep on task and improve his grades.

His favorite subject in school was history.  “It is so interesting to read about past events.”  He struggled with Hindi and Marathi classes, but his tutor helped him do well in these classes.  His mother, Kumkum, also stayed up late assisting him with his Hindi lessons.  

After graduation Karan enrolled in a business program at Mumbai’s Airport Junior College.  His grandfather, a teacher back in their native small town, helped him choose his classes as they discussed his future opportunities.

SHARE social worker Suvarna, has known Karan since he was a small child participating in Armaan Club activities.  “Karan interacts very well with his peers,“ she notes.  Karan credits his mother for helping him with teaching him a valuable lesson: “My mother taught me to stay calm and avoid fights and let go of certain things.”


Nisha’s son Vineet.  Nisha is a member of Ghar Udyog Collective

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Other students knew they could go to Vineet with questions about their math schoolwork. “I love mathematics,” he exclaims, and he was generous with his help.  When he scored an excellent 92 out of 100 on his 10th board exams, the school put his score up on the notice board to congratulate him and to inspire younger students.  It showed the results of hard work and organization because he had not done very well on his previous exams.

History and geography, unlike math, did not excite him.  He found a way to conquer them, however.  “I broke each topic into smaller ones and learned them one at a time.”  He appreciated that his mother had helped him by waking him early to study as well as staying up late to keep him on task, even when she was tired after a long day of work.

Vineet plans to go with his strength and inclination and become a chartered accountant (equivalent to the American CPA).  His will be pursuing his education in business and math at Sankar Narayan College of Arts and Commerce in Thane.


Anita Kaur’s son Ranjit.

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“My friends who were taking the 10th board exams with me were so stressed they wouldn’t even stop to chat,” Ranjit said, reflecting on the tension and pressure associated with the exam.  “But playing soccer and participating in Armaan Club activities were stress busters for me.”  

Ranjit’s mother only went to school for a few years.  Unable to help him with his subjects, she was nevertheless determined to encourage and support him.  She enrolled him in an after-school tutoring class. The classes, however, were crowded, with different ages mixed together and little individual attention.  Ranjit found that it worked better to go to a nearby library which was open to the public and study on his own in a quiet environment.  If any questions arose, he would ask the teachers at school the next day.  His system worked, for he got good scores.  To his surprise, his highest marks were in math, a subject he found difficult, unlike his favorites, science, and history.  Now he is planning to continue his studies in math, as well as science.  His goal is to become an IAS (Indian Administrative Services) officer.  For that government job, he will have to take yet another examination, the Union Public Services Commission exam.

Anita lost her husband when Ranjit was a small child.  Raising him as a single working parent was difficult, but the result was that Ranjit became responsible at an early age.  “He explored the opportunities himself and went all alone for his admission interview, “Anita said.  She is happy that he has matured into such a well-balanced person.


Halima Ansari’s daughter Bushra.  Halima is a member of Aashiyana Cooperative

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“I never give up!” is Bushra’s motto.  She has indeed had to overcome some obstacles, including health problems which caused intense headaches when she tried to concentrate on her studies.  Traveling, loud noise and crowds could also make her feel sick.  Her older siblings (all good students) were not even sure she could graduate from 10th standard.  But Bushra assured them she could do it – and she did!  The same competitive spirit that won her awards in racing and long jump has led to academic success, too.

Her favorite class was science, even though it was hard work.  Marathi language was her most challenging subject, but both her tutor and her mother helped her conquer it.  Bushra had dreams of becoming a beautician, but she has agreed to finish her higher secondary education, studying business at Akbar Peerboy College.  Her mother wants her to get a good education, to be exposed to more ideas and knowledge and options before she decides what to do.  Then Halima will support her daughter’s choices fully.    

Halima feels that Bushra and her siblings have always appreciated her hard work and support and respected her opinions.  After working all day, she can come home to a hot meal prepared by her children.  When she was little, Bushra used to entertain her tired mother by turning on music and dancing for her.  As the children have grown, so too has the relationship of mutual respect.


Haseena Ansari’s son Faisal.  Hasina is the Manager of Aashiyana Cooperative

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When he was in 10th standard, Faisal decided he wanted to become a doctor.  Now that he has passed – with flying colors! – both his 12th standard board exams and NEET, the medical entrance exam, he is well on his way to achieving that goal.  It was difficult to prepare for both exams at the same time, and the stakes were really high.  Acceptance into medical college is very competitive as there are limited places.  Faisal devised a study schedule which focused on his NEET preparation while keeping up with his school subjects.  He also enrolled in a coaching class for NEET prep.  Although it was expensive, Faisal and his family were certain it was money well spent.  Now he is excited about starting his MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery) course.

During his exams Faisal had to deal with an additional burden.  His father was gravely ill and was admitted to the hospital.  Haseena had to stay with her husband, so Faisal had to take over some responsibilities at home.  Soon after his father died, his sister got married, and Faisal had to step in to see to the arrangements.  

Haseena is very proud of how mature her son is.  He has been able to handle both heavy family responsibilities and the hard work required for academic success.  But his life has its lighter moments, also.  As a child Faisal loved playing soccer with the Armaan Club.  Even today, when he gets a chance, he loves to go to the beach to play soccer with his friends – even in the rain!


Shamima Ziauddin’s son Mohd. Zeeshan Ziauddin  Shamima is the Manager of Ghar Udyog Collective

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Zeeshan knows what he wants to do and he has the discipline and drive to realize his ambitions. He enjoyed Computer Science at school, and then took it much farther by studying independently. “I learned programming languages on my own by reading about it online.” All his other school subjects paled in comparison, but he was diligent in classes and tutoring sessions so that he could pass his 12th standard exams. He is now pursuing his B.S degree with an IT specialization at Wilson College, Mumbai. 

It turns out he has already been preparing for his career in the IT industry by spending the last several summer vacations developing an application for MarketPlace! “All the distantly-located production groups can submit their reports online through their password-protected user accounts. The framework is ready and can be customized,” he explained. “I want to show it to Pushpika next time she comes to India.” Because his parents are not computer literate he has also been assisting them at Ghar Udyog, using the computer to track inventory, prepare reports and manage finances. While they could not help him with his studies, his parents were always supportive.

Although very focused, Zeeshan does make time for other interests. He was a regular at Armaan  Club. He enjoys the occasional online game, listening to music while he writes programs and codes, and making friends at his new college. But his greatest enjoyment is improving and using his computer skills. Now Pushpika is looking forward to her meeting with this 17-year old IT consultant. 

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