India is suffering from the plastic waste problem with 26,000 tons of it being generated on a daily basis. In Pamohi, located in the northeastern state of Assam, people were burning it for keeping warm during the winters of the Himalayan foothills. That is before the Akshar Foundation School was built by Parmita Sarma and Mazin Mukhtar about three years ago.
Akshar Foundation School is unique because it is the embodiment of a unique idea; asking parents to pay for the children’s school fees using plastic waste. Mazin Mukhtar gave up the career of an aero engineer in order to work with disadvantaged families located in the US before making his return to India, where he met Sarma, who is a social work graduate.
Together they came up with Akshar Foundation School. Each child is requested to bring at least twenty-five items on a weekly basis. The foundation is a charity that is being supported by donations, but the plastic waste ‘fees’ allows for a sense of community ownership. The Akshar Foundation School has over 100 pupils now. The school is helping to improve the local environment and also tackling the problem of child labor.
Akshar Foundation School took its inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi’s Nai Talim (basic education) philosophy. The school’s curriculum features practical training along with the orthodox academic subjects. Practical education covers the installation and operation of solar panels and helping to run the landscaping business of school that is working for the improvement of local public spaces. Thanks to the partnership of the school with an education technology charity, the pupils are provided tablet computers and interactive learning materials.
Pupils of the school are also running an animal shelter. They rescue and treat injured or abandoned dogs before finding them new homes locally. The school’s recycling center produced eco-bricks that can be utilized for basic construction projects.
What do you think of the amazing Askhar Foundation School?