Established in 1999, Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan (MBCN) is the largest school of its kind in north India that provides free of cost therapies, vocational education and formal education to more than 400 mentally and physically challenged children every year. It recently received the prestigious Derozio award by the governor of West Bengal for its contribution to the society. In this interview with FE’s Abhishek Chakraborty, Vandana Sharma, principal, MBCN, says the programmes in her school are designed in such a manner that students can easily earn a livelihood once they move out. Excerpts:
What was the aim behind founding MBCN?
MBCN is a philanthropic initiative established with the vision to educate and equip special children to live within the community. It provides service to over 800 students, free of cost. The school’s foundation is laid on helping students achieve the three goals of self-dependence—physical, social and financial—to the best of their ability.
What about the staff?
The school has a workforce of over 160 trained rehabilitation professionals. In fact, 40% of our staff members are parents of special children.
How do you help students get a career?
We work to provide rehabilitation and personal development services to students and we support our students and trainees in every area of their lives. The school provides vocational training, wherein the students can gain expertise in various handmade product manufacturing, file making, screen printing, etc. MBCN is also accredited with the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), wherein students with learning difficulties can appear for secondary and higher secondary examinations.
Apart from academics, we try and help students improve their interpersonal skills. We also have skill enhancement programmes, indoor and outdoor games, dance and yoga. Also, many of our students have taken part in national and international-level sporting events. In fact, four of our students have been selected for Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games, which will be held in Australia in December: Shrey Chaudhary (19)—cricket; Praveen Kumar (24) and Akshay Vora (23)—badminton; and Ranjan Jha (19)—table tennis.