The calling to make a difference to someone’s life, to serve humanity, and to give back to the society gave birth to the Max India Foundation (MIF). It is with this inclination that Mr Analjit Singh – Founder and Chairman of the Max Group – created Max India Foundation through a trust deed in 2002.
In 2008, MIF was launched formally as the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of the Max Group. Its charter was reconstituted with a specific focus on providing quality healthcare for underprivileged communities in India. It was considered as an apt choice since the country struggled with basic health issues and affordable healthcare. Besides, being in the ‘Business of Life’, the Max Group companies had access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the healthcare sector.
Since 2008, MIF has benefited almost 35 lakh individuals in over 800 locations, while partnering with more than 450 NGOs. Through nearly 750 general and multi-specialty health camps across urban slums and rural areas in India, MIF helped treat more than 1,50,000 patients. Additionally, through its pan-India immunisation programmes, MIF has administered over 17,000 immunisation shots against nine diseases across five Indian states.
The Foundation also adopted two village clusters in Uttarakhand – Dhakrani and Chandrothi and one in Punjab – Rail Majra, primarily for interventions on health-related issues such as sanitation and waste management to improve the quality of life for villagers. It has been over a decade of meaningful work for MIF.
2019 brought a wave of transformation within the Max Group, with a shift from Healthcare to Real Estate and Senior Care while retaining some of the earlier businesses such as Life Insurance and Specialty Packaging. As the CSR arm of the Max Group, MIF also began to reassess its core areas.
After an extensive strategy realignment exercise, MIF chose to reinvent itself and identified Education as its new area of focus with a resolve to work towards plugging the gaps in India’s education system, particularly in areas of value-based education and quality schooling.
Thus, effective April 2019, MIF 2.0 was born with Tara Singh Vachani as its Managing Trustee.
MIF has benefited almost 35 lakh individuals in over 800 locations, while partnering with more than 450 NGOs. Through nearly 750 general and multi-specialty health camps across urban slums and rural areas in India.
In this new approach, with education being the primary focus, MIF’s objectives will be two-pronged:
1. It will directly drive and coordinate the science and practice of Social, Emotional Ethical (SEE) Learning, which fosters holistic education and the development of emotional intelligence for students and educators.
2. It will support credible NGOs and organisations with a good track record working in the area of foundational learning, through monetary assistance and contribution.
The following sections have more details on both the paths that MIF is pursuing:
Social, Emotional, and Ethical (SEE) Learning™ is an innovative K-12 education program developed by Emory University in Atlanta, USA.
SEE Learning India is a collaboration between Max India Foundation and Emory University, USA. The SEE Learning India platform was launched in August 2019 following the signing of an MoU with Emory University. It is the nodal point for the dissemination of information, training and facilitation of educators embarking on the SEE Learning journey. It also serves as a conduit between educational institutions such as schools and the research cells of universities and institutions gathering information in this domain.
SEE Learning provides educators with the tools they need to foster the development of emotional, social, and ethical intelligence for students and themselves. It has been developed with the help of a team of experts in developmental psychology, education, and neuroscience, as well as the vision and support of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has long called for the education of the heart and mind and a universal, non-sectarian approach to incorporating the ethical development of a child into education.
With the intent to build teacher capacity by training and supporting educators to both deeply understand the SEE Learning body of work and equip them to implement it within their own contexts, SEE Learning India conducts Level 1 Facilitator & Educator prep and CBCT® (Cognitively Based Compassion Training) Workshops. The first such sessions were organised in February 2020 in Delhi and Mumbai with over 180 participants across the two cities. These educators have now embarked on their SEE Learning journey, with a renewed commitment, not just towards bringing compassion into classrooms but also towards the well-being of the self.
SEE Learning Level 1 facilitator training held in Mumbai
Since its inception, SEE Learning India has conducted one-day orientations across 10 educational institutions in Delhi and Mumbai. It has also extended its reach to Ladakh through a partnership with Flowering Dharma - a youth initiative that aims to instil the virtues of compassion and ethics to preserve culture and tradition.
SEE Learning India has partnered with four trailblazers in the field of education - called Beacons - to act as its guides. They are Ravi Gulati, Co-Founder, Manzil, Vivek Kumar Founder, Kshmatalaya Foundation, Anshu Dubey, Program Director, Piramal Foundation for Education Leadership and Rakhee Sharma, India Lead, Charter for Compassion.
SEE Learning India also initiated multiple weekly online initiatives, like ‘Resilience Through Compassion – insights from CBCT®’, ‘Study Circle’ with the idea to provide educators in India an opportunity to not just revisit SEE Learning content but also share their experiences, learnings, and clarify doubts with a larger group. Over 130 people participated in these online initiatives spanning over 10 sessions from different parts of the world.
To collaborate and disseminate awareness about holistic learning, SEE Learning is now a part of the Global Collective on SEL and Digital Learning by UNESCO – MGIEP.
MIF-supported Blossom Bus program helps underprivileged girls commute from their villages in Haryana to their schools
Supporting Foundational Education of the Underprivileged
MIF 2.0 also plays an enabling and supporting role to ensure the foundational learning of underprivileged children to empower them and provide them with an equal chance for further education and job opportunities, thereby changing their lives and those of their families.
In this journey, MIF has identified a few specialist NGO partners after a thorough evaluation.
The salient highlights of MIF’s NGO-related initiatives for FY 20 are as below:
MIF supports Teach for India (TFI), a leading non-profit organisation that is committed to ensuring that every child in India attains an excellent education. TFI does this by recruiting outstanding college graduates and professionals as Fellows, who dedicate two years of their lives teaching at low-income schools.
Besides, the Kids Education Revolution (KER), an initiative piloted by TFI, is an attempt at reimagining the classroom, school, and education system with children at its core. The KER Week, which took place in Delhi in February 2020, brought together a diverse mix of students, leaders and educators working in various ways to reinvent education.
THE BLOSSOMING CHILD:
MIF’s long-time partners Rittana Children’s Foundation enrols children from a broad spectrum of marginalised families. The early childhood programme works with children in the age group of 2 to 12 years to promote functional literacy and provide extra support to girls. Some of the Montessori modules used by Rittana complement traditional learning methodologies and help children strengthen their basic concepts.
OPENING THE DOORS OF ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION:
MIF supports the education of out-of-school children through the Open Basic Education (OBE) Program of the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) by the Aasra Trust in Dehradun. The children also learn various vocational skills as part of their curriculum.
THE ADOLESCENT YEARS:
MIF also supports the Dasra’s Educate Girls (EG) villages of the Srinagar block in Ajmer District. As part of the initiative, the Kishori Samuh has been constituted as a safe platform to get adolescent girls from the community to exchange their experiences and reasons for dropping out. They can get peer support and counselling on dealing with the issues and challenges they face daily.
Children express their gratitude to MIF for bridge classes at EQU+ study centres in Delhi that help them cope with studies
BUILDING A MOVEMENT OF TEACHER LEADERS:
MIF-supported Foster & Forge Foundation (F&F) regularly organises Learning Circles to train teachers and keep them updated on contemporary teaching techniques and other strategies including community project planning, role-play method as well as programmes such as Gond Art, Children Lead Against Plastic (CLAP) project, etc.
KEEPING ABREAST THROUGH REMEDIAL CLASSES:
Besides assisting in admission to local government schools, Samarpan Foundation, supported by MIF, also provides remedial coaching classes to children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. This helps them understand the concepts, models, and theories which are a part of their school curriculum. Apart from academics, extracurricular activities such as regular yoga and taekwondo classes are also conducted.
GIVING A SECOND CHANCE TO LEARNING:
MIF supports 20 Education Quality Addition (EQU+) program study centres in Delhi, which continue to provide an educational lifeline and a safe and uplifting environment to almost 500 children of underprivileged families, for two hours in the evenings, six days a week in various communities. While classes focus on keeping children updated with their schoolwork, storytelling, dance, and drawing are also taught.
THE JOY OF READING:
MIF is committed to encouraging children to develop a reading habit. It supports the Pustakalaya initiative undertaken by the Angelique Foundation, which aims to instal libraries in SMCD and NMCD schools at Delhi to enhance the reading and comprehension level of students in these schools.
GETTING ONTO THE SCHOOL BUS:
MIF supports The Blossom Bus program by the White Lotus Charitable Trust, which aims to provide safe and free transport to schoolgoing girls from villages in Haryana. Around 300+ girls studying in grade 6 to 12 travel from more than 15 villages to their schools in Hathin, Bahin, Solara, and Chaisa villages in Haryana’s Palwal district, located three to nine kilometres away from their homes. This is a blessing for the girls who were earlier prone to dropping out of school without completing their education due to lack of transport.
ENVIRONMENTALLY AWARE STUDENTS:
With the support of Max Life Insurance, Teach for India (TFI) Fellows initiated a Water Conservation Campaign aimed at conserving water through a nozzle that saves up to 60% flow and can fit easily in existing taps. Nozzles were distributed to Vivek Modern School and Gangotri School, Delhi to ensure that students conserve water regularly.
MIF-supported St. Jude provides holistic palliative care and support to children suffering from Cancer
MIF continued to fulfil some of its previous commitments towards providing health-related support through partner NGOs across the country, in the areas of preventive cancer screening and medical assistance for children with cancer, as well as the provision of holistic palliative care to patients and their families struggling with cancer and other life-threatening conditions.
The programmes at the St. Jude India Childcare Centre supported by MIF have helped children with cancer, their families, and caregivers to widen their knowledge base and get exposure to numerous recreational activities. Some like celebrations of festivals and birthdays held at the Centre have imparted emotional and psychological support to the patients.
The growing COVID-19 pandemic put global communities and economies at a standstill. Multiple initiatives were taken by the government in preparedness and in response to the pandemic. MIF played its part by contributing towards relief measures, reducing educational inequity, and ensuring uninterrupted learning.
MIF, along with Max Life, set aside ₹5 Cr. for COVID-19 relief initiatives. It donated ₹2 Cr. from this fund to resume the education of over 8,000 underprivileged children in Delhi-NCR, through Teach for India.
TFI provided these children Internet connectivity for attending e-classes while the Fellows support them to focus on education as their families continue to cope with disrupted livelihoods.
Additionally, MIF, through TFI, also provided food and essential supplies to these children and their families – a total of 50,000 individuals to help them survive the pandemic.
MIF also provided cooked meals in Noida to nearly 58,000 unemployed migrant labourers, who were stranded due to the lockdown.
It also supported the Punjab Health Department by supplying nearly 30,000 N95 masks to the Department of Health & Family Welfare. Max Group employees also wholeheartedly lent their support to relief efforts by making donations.
Inspired by Pustakalaya, a joint initiative of MIF and Angelique Foundation, Divya, a NDMC school student, opens a library at her makeshift house in the Pragati Maidan slum
Divya studies at the NDMC, Kaka Nagar School. The Pustakalaya initiative of the Angelique Foundation had a great impact on Divya’s value system and dreams. Before the Pustakalaya initiative, Divya begged outside the Pragati Maidan Shani Mandir and managed some pocket money for goodies. Seeing her interest in books, the initiative provided her with a mobile library with 100 books. Divya set up the library in the temple and her home. Many children from the nearby Pragati Maidan slum areas now go there and spend time after school to enjoy this resource and develop themselves in many ways. Divya also gives tuitions to the young children outside the same temple.
Earlier, students were focussed on academic outcomes and never took a break to reflect on their performance or even their personalities. With TFI’s efforts, they are now able to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses regularly, hence setting further goals.
Shweta joined the Beacon Educator Fellowship last year. This year she learnt new forms of craft like Papiermâché and Gond art. Shweta also taught her students to think and talk without hesitation on different topics and helped increase their confidence levels.
Max India Foundation’s primary focus will continue to be on supporting quality schooling that provides a robust foundation for learning and builds strong values among children.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered us into the world of online education. MIF will partner with credible NGOs and organisations using online learning to scale up their efforts and create a larger impact.
Going forward, SEE Learning India will focus on building educator capacity and a community of practitioners through various initiatives like the Incubation Program, Best Practices for Implementation etc. These are designed to make the process of adapting SEE Learning as smooth and seamless to ensure translation and contextualisation of the SEE Learning curriculum to suit both the Indian urban and rural setting.
It will expand and strengthen the educator community by way on virtual orientations, bootcamps and study circles. The online Facilitator Certification Process and CBCT Retreat will kick off and conclude before the end of this calendar year, which will help us to empanel the first cohort of SEE Learning certified facilitators in India. These trainers will accelerate the introduction of SEE Learning as a concept and practice in Indian schools.