Mastek’s implementation of a school management system for KSWA creates positive change in the lives of numerous youngsters like Leena.
Like most youth from an underprivileged background, Leena was considered an underdog of society. At 16, she was forced by her family to drop out of school and fend for a living. So, she ended up working as a house help. Yet, the optimist that she was, Leena kept hoping against hope for a better future. Interestingly, her positivity did not let her down.
Opportunity came knocking at her door in the form of a coordinator from the Yuva Parivartan Movement (YPM). YPM was started by a local NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation), the Kherwadi Social Welfare Association (KSWA). The aim was to provide counselling and vocational training across various skills to unmotivated school dropouts - thereby preventing them from going astray, and making them economically independent.
Through YPM’scounselling services Leena was encouraged to enrol for a tailoring course at the organisation. She soon learnt the art of stitching and also had the opportunity to study computers when she participated in a basic computer training course.
Getting Back On Track with a School Management System
According to Shivani Mehta, Senior Director, KSWA, “Our growth objective was to reach out to a 100,000 school dropouts across the country within a year’s time. To achieve this, we needed more funding. Unfortunately, the government and donors were quite cautious about the numbers we’d projected and requested detailed reports, which we couldn’t provide because of a lack of a proper management information system. We soon realised that if we wanted to sustain and grow, we had to install a robust information technology system.”
KSWA had in the past, engaged the services of a vendor to implement an MIS system. However, the project was a failure. As a result of the failed initiative, the management team was losing confidence in its ability to develop software. Their existing systems could not handle the voluminous data of around 80,000 students, which was generated on an annual basis. The information that had to be captured included details of the student and their parents, daily attendance, fees received and examination scores. The system also had to integrate with partner databases and an examination database. The NGO also needed the ability to gauge its financial status on an ad hoc basis through the fees collected. As matters panned out, KSWA was directed to Mastek by a board member who had interacted with the company in the past.
Says Shivani, “Mastek helped us identify and access a ready-to-use school management system that would meet most of our requirements. They then implemented the solution and also fully trained our team to operate and manage it.” Mastek’s recommended IT solution brought the NGO’s YPM initiative back on track by providing the applications to enable them to achieve more. The system offered end-to-end visibility of the day-to-day operations, enabling the NGO to source additional funding, as well as rebuilding the confidence of its employees to easily manage the daily IT activities.
Developing and Nurturing Innate Abilities
“The new system has certainly added value to our work. We can now easily extract detailed reports, check historical data and view our student’s progress. Additionally, the school management system doubles up as a social impact mechanism through which we can track how our students are faring on in life, a few months after they complete the course,” explains KSWA’s Mehta.
According to Anil D’sa Project Manager, “Through the initiative, ‘Transforming NGOs through IT’ Mastek supported KSWA in its proven capability area by providing guidance in managing the complete programmeand ensuring a smooth implementation.
KSWA is the first NGO where Mastek not only implemented a solution, but also trained individuals from the NGO itself to manage operations. “For an NGO like KSWA, it does not make sense to hire the capability of an IT company. This capability has to be developed and nurtured by individuals from within the system who understand the business,” says Anil. Mastek selected a team of eight people from KSWA who were trained to take charge of four different projects.
The training not only equipped them with a new skill, it also served to develop the confidence of the individuals who handled the system. “When we started working with the school management system, we hardly had any IT capabilities. We were unsure about how we would be able to make this work, especially after the failure we experienced last time. Today, things are different and we are very confident at managing the system,” says Mehta.
Mastek regularly monitors the progress of the YPM IT systems through bi-monthly reviews and recommendations to enhance the system.
Creating a Lasting Impact on Society
Today, Leena is all smiles and brimming with confidence, armed with a skill for life, thanks to her basic computer training at KSWA. She is happy at her job working as a data entry operator at a local company. Leena is just one of the innumerable young lives that the YPM initiative has turned around for the better.
According to KSWA’s estimates, by 2020 around 500 million people across India will reach working age, which will be the highest worldwide. However, over 80 per cent of these youngsters will be school dropouts. Without vocational training, they will not have the skills to cater to the growing needs of various industries, nor will they be diligent enough to work long hours as casual labourers, as they could easily fall prey to addictions and vices that can damage both mind and body.
D’sa who found working on the project extremely satisfying says, “We created a large impact by helping KSWA achieve their goal of reaching one million dropouts across India annually. These dropouts could have been easy prey for anti-social activities or remained on the fringes of society if KSWA did not reach out to them. Today, we can proudly say that Mastek contributed in a big way, albeit indirectly to this effort.”