Afsana Parveen talks about her school which educates the underprivileged

28-year-old social entrepreneur Afsana Parveen talks about the struggle she went through to set-up ‘Pehchaan – the Street School’



The Nirbhaya-incident in December 2012 traumatized the entire country. Candles were lit, people were mourning, and our country was questioned. But 28-year-old Afsana Parveen says that the black-letter day changed her life. She searched for answers as to why people committed such heinous crimes against women and after digging deep into her thoughts, she finally hit upon the root cause: illiteracy. And from that day onwards, she never looked back.

Afsana started her street school ‘Pehchaan’ in September 2014 adjacent to a road leading to a slum under Ghansoli Bridge in sector-1. “If we want to uplift the underprivileged and stop these crimes, education is the only answer. And education is possible by being among them as if we were one of their own. Slum kids do not want to be given donations from NGOs or groups of individuals. They want respect, dignity and a place in the society. And we ought to give them their place.” said Afsana.

After small obstacles, her project was shaping into a success. She was able to hire more volunteers who would work for her free of cost. With her own efforts and the support of the people, Afsana managed to install two computers and a projector for streaming educational videos.

But on May 20, 2016, her dream was live-short. The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation shattered her school down. But Afsana was adamant that it hadn’t shattered her dream. “It was hard for me at first but my aim is to educate these children and no one can stop me from doing that. I accommodated the street school on the very same street where I had started it in 2014, on the very next day. Education should not stop," she said.


Afsana says that the children are the greatest source of motivation and inspiration for her. “There are times with no electricity, and I feel bad for the students who come from far-off distances to find the lights gone. And out of frustration, I always say that I would shut the school down. But my students tell me, “Aap fikar mat karo, hum fir se khada kar denge.” If they are not giving up, then who am I to.”

Speaking about the monsoon, Afsana said, “Yes, this time of the year it is difficult. Because of the rains, I would neither be able to teach the kids on the street nor under the bridge, as there is no source of light there.”

Afsana further said, “My students miss the projector. They said they liked the visual way of learning. It is definitely easier to grasp knowledge from images than via reading text. But that doesn’t stop me from reaching my pursuit. I will lay down a carpet under the bridge and use emergency lights if that’s what it takes to teach my students.”

Image courtesy:,Twitter



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