Shri Avinash Singh Alag
Achiever's Success Story
A Beacon of Hope for Marginalized Youth through Gyanoday
Shri Avinash Singh Alag started his journey as an Educator by establishing Blossoms School in Meerut in 1996. While Blossoms School became renowned for its focus on holistic human development, he realised that the fruits of all-round education were restricted to a privileged few. His desire to break this exclusivity led him to expand his focus to street and slum dwelling children and young adults who had never seen and been inside the walls of a school. After becoming privy to the context of their socio-economic marginalization through a self-funded study, he founded Gyanoday, an NGO on 26 September 2001, with the sole objective of taking school to children who cannot afford and access mainstream education. With the motto ‘Knowledge is the Basis of Progress,’ Gyanoday started with six centres or Vatikas (The Garden Of Knowledge) in Meerut. Today, it has eighteen Vatikas and three Vocational Training Centres (VTCs) spread across Meerut, Dehradun and Delhi. Gyanoday runs under the aegis of S. Sewa Singh Rajinder Singh Memorial Charitable Educational Trust (Regd.).
Born on 17 July 1966, Avinash belongs to the fourth generation of a family that has contributed to bettering the lives and livelihoods of ordinary citizens in different ways. As a Magistrate of Meerut, his great grandfather Sardar Sahib Sardar Sewa Singhji was responsible for the construction of the upper Ganga canal that brought water from Haridwar to Bulandshahr. His grandfather, S. Rajinder Singhji, an Honorary Magistrate of Meerut spearheaded the resettlement efforts of post-partition migrants in Meerut. His father, senior advocate S. Kavinder Singhji received the Meerut Ratna for his dedication towards the legal profession for five decades. The seeds of social work were sown in him early on in life. He is an alumnus of The Doon School. At the age of seventeen in 1983, he was conferred the prestigious International Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme’s Gold Award for his distinguished social service in the domain of child education, and the completion of a residential project in village Ayadnagar in Hapur district of Uttar Pradesh. He has taken his forefathers’ legacy of public and social service further with Gyanoday’s mission to take all-round education outside the walls of formal schools, to the
Shri Avinash Singh Alag has substantially contributed towards the betterment of the lives and livelihoods of street and slum dwelling children and young adults in Meerut, Dehradun and Delhi since the inception of Gyanoday in 2001. Gyanoday’s four-dimensional intervention: Vatikas, Scholarships, Vocational Training, and Career and Livelihood programs have focussed on building capabilities, equalising opportunities and empowering deprived individuals to actualise their potential. Avinash’s persistent efforts have increased the probability of engaging in income- generating endeavours of the beneficiaries of Gyanoday’s programs. Access to education and vocational training has led them to attain financial resilience and independence which has contributed to the reduction of the incidence of vulnerability and risk, or slipping back to destitute conditions. Beneficiaries of Gyanoday’s programs have reported to be in a position to save the money they earn to improve their living standards, meet their future career goals and for familial contingencies.
Gyanoday’s provisioning of alternate schools in the 18 Vatikas are based on the holistic 4-H curriculum that enriches the Head, Heart, Hands and Health. While basic literacy and arithmetic skills of street and slum dwelling children have improved significantly, the 4-H curriculum has enabled children to break with their destitute pasts as ragpickers, beggars and the clutches of drug abuse as well. Access to a holistic curriculum and opportunities to acquire soft skills in the
3 Vocational Training Centres have decreased the chances of social exclusion of the beneficiaries of Gyanoday’s programs. Shri Avinash’s contributions are further streamlined in the direction of Women Empowerment and gender justice. Women, particularly, have benefitted from the certificate courses organized by Gyanoday’s Vocational Training Centres in terms of gaining Employment in well-established firms and even started their own business ventures as tailors, makeup artists and mehendi artists.