BRINGING THE EDUCATION GAP BETWEEN THE PRIVILEGED AND THE UNDERPRIVILEGED
HCS Elementary serves 300 children from Pre-K - Eighth grade. The school follows the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (I.C.S.E) curriculum which is one the top curriculums in India.
Apart from basic education, the school offers extracurricular activities, including art, photography, drama, competitions, sports, field trips and computer classes. The school also offers an after-school program, where students are given extra tutoring as well as a nutritious lunch.
The school works as a community school and has a community outreach program that looks for way to help the community through income generation, medical help and any other way that we can ensure our students are successful.
Most of the parents and guardians are illiterate and are daily wage earners like handcart and rickshaw pullers, vegetable sellers, auto-drivers, tea-sellers, vendors, and maid servants. They live in very poor quality homes under extreme poverty. Most of the parents make between $24 - $50 (USD) a month and live with multiple family members.
HCS charges a subsidized tuition of $6.00 per month of which many of the students are unable to pay. The tuition includes lunch, after-school classes, computer classes, excursions and extra-curricular activities. HCS depends mainly on sponsor donations to cover its monthly expenses.
The school is located in the Howrah district, on the west bank of the river Hoogli and is the twin city of Kolkata. It is one of the most densely populated and poorest districts in India. The school is close to the world famous Howrah Bridge, Howrah railway station, and Pilkhana slum, where the movie, City of Joy was filmed. The Howrah district expands a 20 square mile area with a population of over 1.5 million. That is more than 57,000 inhabitants per square mile. Many of our students come from the many slums that are within a three mile radius of the school.
The students are made up of sixty percent Muslims and forty percent Hindus. The students speak the local languages, Bengali and Hindi at home. A majority of the students have to work before and after school to help support their families. Many of the students live with extended family members while their parents and families live in remote villages.
HC Elementary was started in 1985. Zachariah Patnaik ran the school from 1987 - 2013. Zac, having very humble beginnings, personally experienced the importance of good education. He learned how education can help ignite a child's' dreams and desires. He also witnessed how easily those same dreams and desires could be extinguished when a child is engulfed in a life of poverty. Zac’s mission became one of how not only to ignite the fire of dreams and desires, but how to provide the discipline and perseverance to make this a reality.
He saw himself in those children and knew that if given the opportunity to thrive they could be successful. He believed that working hard was the key to “getting somewhere” in life. A quality education, a meal, and an opportunity were the tools he believed every person needed to achieve their goal, no matter what the circumstance. With this belief as his motivation, he ran HCS Elementary for 27 years with enrollments that have peaked at over 700 students. Zachariah Patnaik passed away in February of 2013 and since then, his son, Rajiv Patnaik, has taken on his father’s mission.