Meet Dr. Bijli Mallik, the director of Institute of Psychological and Educational Research (IPER), a voluntary organisation with a focus on education. IPER presently runs Primary and Upper Primary schools in the slums of South Kolkata providing direct education to 1445 kids including 682 boys and 763 girls. “There are 30 centres in total with 39 dedicated teachers. IPER undertakes a number of programmes for development of children. The programme Integrated Programme for Street Children aims at prevention of destitution of the children and putting them into the social mainstream. The major component of project includes education, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, safe-drinking water, recreational facilities and protection against abuse and exploitation of these kids. Over the past one year IPER has reached out to 500 children through 16 centres spread over Kolkata. Our other programs include providing basic support to children who have been deprived of educational assistance and nutritional needs, anti- child labour project, which is run in conformity with Child Rights Commission and International Labour Organisation objectives. It includes around 350 children under this project,” Informs Bijli Mallik.Bijli Mallik’s resume is impressive, to say the least. She is the Founder President of Soroptimist International of South Kolkata an association of professional women working for the uplift and welfare of women and children living in deprived conditions. She is also a member of the International Society of Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) since 1991. She is a member of the Task Force at the State Level for proper monitoring and implementation of the provisions of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act 2009 and Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008 under the Department of Health and Family Welfare of Government of West Bengal. Dr. Mallik has also been selected as a Member of the Working Group on Teacher Education under the Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development for formulation of 12th Five year Plan (2012-17) in the month of June 2011. She is the Chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of South 24 Parganas of Government of West Bengal from 8th November 2011.
Major Activities of IPER include:
IPER also works towards prevention of alcoholism and substance abuse through counselling and self-awareness.
“Being a single mother of two daughters it was very difficult for me to take proper care of them single-handedly. IPER solved my problem by taking my younger daughter under their care, providing her with food, shelter and educational support,” says Mithu Mondal who works as a house help in South Kolkata.
Subhadra has a different story to tell. “My husband is an alcoholic and doesn’t support the family well. I work as a maid but my income is too frugal to support my two children. I came to know about IPER from my neighbours and admitted my daughter there. She was taken care of by the care givers there and I could manage my family better with only one child to look after,” says Subhadra, also a house help living in South Kolkata.
“I believe that no development is possible without education in the true sense of the term and for that the involvement of the community people is very much essential. At IPER we try to bridge the gap that exists between expected learning and achieved learning. The children who are environmentally challenged should not miss out on the rights that the nation and society has guaranteed to them. So I intend to continue to work very closely with the community children. We have just started a 6 months course named Early Childhood and Child development for teachers and parents who deal with children of 2-6 years of age. The training helps in better understanding of child psychology and child behaviour which facilitates better learning and better growing up of children,” says Mallik.
IPER runs a multi-disciplinary training centre for marginalised youth from the south Kolkata community and sponsors shelter facilities for 28 high-risk girls who live in the streets and shanties in the adjoining areas. In another unique initiative, IPER launched its Computer on Wheels program last January where a mobile van carrying computers and trainers reached out to underprivileged youth groups to impart vocational training in software like that of animation to facilitate income generation among the young. It benefited the poor youth who cannot enrol into sophisticated computer programs. However, the programmed is presently stalled due to some tax related issue but efforts are on to restart it soon. IPER also has a School on Wheels providing education to children living in the community.
“5 girls trained by us in taekwondo won national level awards in competitions held at Bangalore and Nepal this year. IPER provides taekwondo training to vulnerable girls for self defense,” signs off Mallik.