This year marks an important milestone at Hunar Ghar School. The very first batch of students who started at Hunar Ghar when it was first opened are completing their educational journey through the school.

There are three girls and seven boys who are coming to the end of their time in our first ever Class 8.  We are delighted that all ten of them are enrolled in local secondary schools with the full support of their parents. When you consider that 83% of adults in Bakhel have never been to school themselves, this is a fantastic outcome. Educate for Life CEO and co-founder Ed Forrest describes the children as “the trailblazers of their community” and indeed they are.

The graduation of the first batch of pupils from Hunar Ghar evokes mixed feelings for Ed and his fellow Educate for Life co-founder Akshay Patel, as well as the Hunar Ghar Principal, Chandrakant Sharma.

Ed writes: “Class 8 children leaving feels very bitter-sweet. They have been with us since Hunar Ghar opened. Everything I have learned in almost a decade of working on Hunar Ghar, every challenge faced and triumphed, has been for them, and all the children that will come after them. I am grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to work with them and learn so much as a result.

“They are incredible individuals. They are truly the trailblazers of their community. As we’ve found our feet growing from fledgling to successful organisation, they too have found theirs. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy at times, but they’ve remained committed throughout to learning and creating a better future for themselves. I am immensely proud of each one of them.

“That each one of them will continue going to school next year, has the full support of their parents in this, and Hunar Ghar is helping enrol them in local schools and will continue to support them in their learning journeys, is testament that this is just the beginning for them: They are at the beginning of brave new lives and I wish them every success.

“I will greatly miss them but the memory of them, and what it feels like to see them step out so confidently into this world, will inspire me daily to make this journey possible for every child in Bakhel, and the 7 million out of school children in India.”

Similar sentiments are expressed by Ash, who writes:Our oldest children graduating from Class 8 and continuing life beyond Hunar Ghar makes me feel both proud and a little bit apprehensive.

“I feel proud when I think of how they have grown and flourished. From children who were scared on their first days at school, and had probably never held a book in their hands, to young adults who have developed friendships with people all over the world, become young leaders and ventured further than anyone in their families before them. It has been a real privilege to have been a part of that journey and a credit to each of them that they have turned into such wonderful young adults.

“As well as this pride, though, I do feel a little apprehensive. In the way that I guess any ‘parent-figure’ might. They’re still just children and despite how far they have come, their journey into adulthood proper is only just beginning. I’m sure there will be struggles ahead for all of them. I hope though, that with the experiences they’ve had while at Hunar Ghar, and the mentorship and support that will continued to be offered to them even when they join other schools, they will be well equipped to make the most of the coming years.

“Whatever happens, I know that our doors will always be open when they need some support, or just a friendly face to talk to. I can’t wait to see them continue to grow and flourish over the next few years of their lives.”

Chandrakant, the Principal of Hunar Ghar, shares that: “The children immensely enjoyed Hunar Ghar’s ‘learning with play’ approach to teaching. They have said that they will miss our Community Learning Mornings, Class Learning Demonstration Days, Project-based learningopportunities to learn with interns and our school lunch!

I am proud of all the children. All the children were intelligent, punctual and had passion for learning. We all learnt from each other. Without the children, learning was not possible for me. I will really miss them. I wish them best of luck for their next journey.  Keep it up.”