Antara Sarkar is the Creator of Sunday Class - a free, educational, STEM weekend school for underprivileged kids, which is located in Greater Noida, India.
She is a graduate from BITS Pilani, following which she worked in J P Morgan, Mumbai. Her volunteering journey started in college when she taught kids of construction workers, spent a summer in a village teaching kids, etc. She is also the co-founder of The Pink Engine (www.thepinkengine.com), a company that makes 3D-printed Indian Railways scale models.
In 2016, Antara started volunteering in Greater Noida, at a government primary school for underprivileged kids. The kids come from families where parents are daily wage labourers, domestic help, auto drivers, etc.
The school dropout rate of the kids was very high. In order to change that, Antara worked with the community for many months to get all the children enrolled into school. Dealing with alcoholic fathers, and mothers who prefer the children to work rather than study was a very new and difficult task. However, months and months of home visits and conversations paid off - all the kids went back to school.
About a year later, when the children were graduating from Class 5 of the primary school Antara volunteered at, she realized that in order to make a long-term difference, she had to continue teaching these kids. And that's how the idea of Sunday Class was born. However, there was no space to teach the kids as the area was mostly a slum. After some weeks of searching around, a basement was found.
And so in April of 2018, Antara started Sunday Class. Her dream is to give her kids a safe space, where they can experience and learn a whole variety of new things. Along with Maths, Science & English, Sunday Class curriculum includes coding, robotics, movie-making, kick-boxing, fashion designing, learning electrical and mechanical engineering, etc. Antara and her husband Dr. Anurup Mitra, ensure that learning is hands-on, innovative, fun, and useful in the real world. Sessions on Child Sexual Abuse, Menstruation, LGBTQ+ Rights, how to handle crushes as teenagers, etc. are also conducted for overall development of the children.
Due to the pandemic, Antara & Anurup started Sunday Class Online - to conduct their classes on YouTube. This was a challenge in itself as the kids don't have easy access to smartphones. However, the dedication of the kids ensured that online classes were a success.
To support the kids & their families during the pandemic, they have also conducted many food distribution drives. They also financially support the children and their families outside of Sunday Class, which included medical expenses, school fees etc.
The goal of Sunday Class is to provide a safe space where the kids can learn both theory and its practical applications, be loved, and be free to express themselves. And to know that they can dream big and be whatever they want to be!