The Centre is named to honour the memory and pioneering work of the warm and wonderful Ferdinand Van Koolvijk, who, inspired by Sister Cyril’s work at Loreto Sealdah, Kolkata, established the Partnership Foundation to ensure education for girls on and of the streets of India. With a vision of establishing 50 model homes for girls in India’s Government schools, Ferd joined hands with Aman Biradari to pilot the program in Delhi in 2005. He was able to see the initiative extend to 45 homes in 7 States under the banner of the Rainbow Foundation of India (RFI). In Ferd’s passing in October 2013, many of us in RFI, CES and Aman Biradari lost a dear friend and a profound inspiration, and the street-children of India lost a stalwart advocate, who put all his energies into promoting their well-being.
The CREATE study provides evidence that 33% of children achieve grade level competencies in Grade 3 and hence qualify as achieving “meaningful learning”, the percentage goes down to 25% in Grade 5, to 20% by Grade 8, and to 10% in Grade 12 and that these averages mask great variation between and within states. The evidence suggests high age-in-grade, an associated increased risk of dropout, and continued exclusion of girls, Muslims, scheduled castes and tribes, and that “participation and progression remain strongly associated with household wealth despite commitments to pro-poor policies and investment of resources” (p. 24) and “poorer underdeveloped areas have the worst facilities and teachers” (Lewin, 2011, p. 49)4
In The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, Brafman and Beckstrom (2006)2 distinguish between spider-like organizations with a clearly discernible head controlling the body, from starfish-like organizations, that have no central command, but rather carry the entire nervous system encoded in every part. They propose a model for decentralized organizations that thrive and grow, replicate and mutate as real or virtual communities organized around a central ideology that fills an urgent need: to overcome addiction (e.g Alcoholics Anonymous), for low-cost long-distance communication (e.g. Skype), to share knowledge and information (e.g. Wikipedia).They argue that such organizations are catalyzed by a powerful idea and characterized by groups that function as communities, providing autonomy and freedom from hierarchy, governed by common norms rather than rules, and often self- policing (Brafman & Beckstrom, 2006)2