Good Shepherd Schools were created with a transformative agenda after an invitation from and in consultation with Dalit-OBC and Women leaders who were concerned about the marginalization of their own societies due to a lack of equal opportunities and finances.
They wanted a national-level school system designed to bring transformation and holistic community development to the marginalized, downtrodden, oppressed and poor sections of Indian society through quality, subsidized, English-medium education for those with no other opportunities, including peripheral elements offering healthcare and economic development in surrounding villages and communities.
The Good Shepherd Family of Schools was opened in response to a request for primary and secondary English-medium education previously only available to privileged classes of people in expensive private English-medium institutions. The Good Shepherd Schools strategy is unique in implementing a four-pillared approach to achieve holistic community transformation and includes elements in education, healthcare, economic development, and justice and advocacy.
The first of the Good Shepherd Schools opened in 1998, with the full project gaining momentum in 2001. The initial goal was to begin schools starting at the primary level and extending up to the secondary level across the nation in 100 centers. This goal was achieved in 2010. Today, in 2012, there are 107 schools across the country with over 26,000 students.
The next big goal is to increase the capacity of the school system to cater to 100,000 children and then increase it further to reach one million SC/ST, OBC and underprivileged poor children across India.
Commitment to Academic Excellence
Good Shepherd Schools is transforming communities through English-Medium Education across the nation. Villages that were divided by caste barriers and broken by extreme poverty are seeing growth in infrastructure and unification across economic, social and religious lines.
Good Shepherd Schools was invited by a group of Dalit Buddhist people in 2002 to Sidhauli village in Uttar Pradesh. Twenty Dalit Buddhist leaders expressed their desire for hope and social development among their communities. They asked Good Shepherd Schools to educate their children so they would not be bonded to the back-breaking agricultural work of their heritage. Thus, a school was started. Even though they wanted education, it still took a long time to convince the people to send their children to school, especially their girl children. Over four years’ time, however, the school grew in number. Together with its quickly growing economic development programs and its healthcare initiative, the Sidhauli school is transforming the lives of these people who yearned for hope and an education.
A poverty-stricken village home to the poorest of poor Dalit-Bahujan farmers, the marginalisation of the village’s underprivileged residents was complete. However, after just a few years of a Good Shepherd School being present in the village, members of high and low caste were eating meals together and attending weddings under the same tent. The school in Papaiahpet has reached such lofty heights that in 2012, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has selected 80 talented students from the school and will develop them through six months of coaching after which time they will appear for the ISAT-2012 entrance test for higher studies in the CEI.
First Graduation Ceremony
February 28, 2009, will stand out in the history of Good Shepherd Schools as a true moment of triumph as they celebrated their first-ever graduation. In all, nearly 50 students emerged as successful graduates on that historic day. Many of those children never stood a chance at a new future until the Good Shepherd Schools began. They were condemned to a life of severe poverty and ruthless oppression like the generations before them because Indian society and the caste system labeled them as outcastes. However, the Good Shepherd Schools changed all of that for them. These young boys and girls stand at the threshold of a new beginning. They were empowered to pursue careers as doctors, engineers and teachers. They broke free from centuries-old illiteracy and poverty to begin a new future. Their families have benefitted from all of OMIF’s programs and revel in the emancipation they now have.
Tomorrow’s Leaders Today!
Involvement does not stop with students’ graduation from our schools. Our expert staff offers career counseling and gets personally involved in their higher education to help produce India’s leaders.
From Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, Saroja’s father abandoned her mother when Saroja was a young girl. Her mother went to work in a matchstick factory and had no hope of supporting her family. However, Saroja was enrolled in the local Good Shepherd School and graduated in 2009 in the first batch of graduates. Today she is doing her +2 studies majoring in Science and Math. She hopes to be an engineer one day.
Vasu’s father was a dhobi who worked hard but never made enough to support his family adequately. Living in the semi-urban areas of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, Vasu lived in a stone quarry community and was bussed in to the local Good Shepherd School. He completed his education with distinction and is now attending college. He is studying Math, Physics and Chemisty on his way to being an engineer.
Pranita lived in dire poverty for most of her life, but eventually graduated with top marks from the inaugural Good Shepherd School. She wants to be a cardiologist and has started her first year of university after completing her +2. Occasionally, after getting her top-notch English training at Good Shepherd School, she works as an English translator for OMIF’s healthcare initiative Community Health Worker training seminars.